THE UNIVERSITY LIBRARY
W1VERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN DIEGO
IA JOILA. CALIFORNIA
TWO PLAYS BY TGHEKHOF
TRAGEDY OF NAN
AND OTHER PLAYS
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THE CHERRY ORCHARD
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TCHEKHOF . ..... .7
THE SEAGULL, ....... 23
THE CHERRY ORCHARD ...... 87
BIBLIOGRAPHY . 154
TCHEKHOF wrote five important plays Ivdnof, Uncle Vdnya, The Sea-
gull, The Three Sisters, and The Cherry Orchard. The rest are one-act
farces. 1 have chosen The Seagull and The Cherry Orchard for this
volume as representing him at two extremes. The Seagull is easy,
entramant, not much unlike a Western play ; The Cherry Orchard is
difficult, rebarbattf and very Russian.
While our new Drama is still in its plastic age, still capable of new
impressions (for in spite of many obstacles a new Drama seems to be
growing obscurely up in England), it is good for all who cherish it,
playwrights, critics, and spectators, to keep the best foreign models
before their eyes.
It is of course to Life itself that playwrights, like all other artists,
must go, both for their matter and for their form. But Life is a very
complicated affair. To different nations, to different generations, to
different individuals, different views of it seem important. We sit
studying one aspect with all our might, till some day we discover that
we have been neglecting a hundred others ; and off we career to pitch
our campstools under another tree, whereon learned arboriculturists
then hasten to hang a neat label with its proper name, Romanticism,
Realism, Post-Impressionism or the like. We peer and pry about,
eager to know if anyone has found a new clue to the elusive secret.
We do not want to pinch his particular recipe, but we do want to
know all possible methods, to see the lie of the whole country, like
carrier-pigeons that fly round in circles before they choose their own
With French and German one may do a great deal ; there is
Hervieu, Donnay, Cap us, Maeterlinck, Hauptmann, Hofmannsthal,
Schnitzler, and a few translated Norsemen and Hollanders, all men
with different philosophies of Art and Life, good to be inquired into.
But the contribution of the Russians, though less accessible, is not
less important. Andn'-yef, Gorky, Tchi'rikof, Blok, Yushkevitch,
Tohekhof, have studied aspects to which it is right that we should
make ourselves sensitive.
It is in fact my Preface, not my Translation, that calls for apology.
For, on the face of it, it is the business of a work of art to explain
its own intentions. Still, the perfect work of art requires the perfect
spectator ; and it is in order to help the reader to become one, that
I offer him the fruit of my meditations on Tchekhof ; I want to clear
his eyes, to make his vision " normal," like the unassuming Irishman's.
For we Britons, perhaps more than any other nation, come to the con-
templation of exotic art with a certain want of ease, a certain doubt
where to focus our attention, a bewilderment as to what is foreign-
ness in the matter and what is originality in its presentation.
And I do not think the queer performance of The Cherry Orchard
(in another version) given before the Stage Society, 1 will have done
anything to dispel that bewilderment or forestalled me in elucidating
the secrets of Tchekhof s genius.
THE CENTRIFUGAL METHOD
A competent professional critic would easily stick a label on
Tchekhof and push him without more ado into his proper pigeon-
hole ; but, as a fumbling amateur, I must ask for the reader's
indulgence while I go the long way round, retail all the differentiae
which I see in him as systematically as I can, and leave it to some
experter person to condense them afterwards into the appropriate
but undiscoverable word.
The most general idea under which I can sum up the essential
characteristics of his plays is this : That the interest of them is, so to
speak, "centrifugal" instead of self-centred; that they seek, not so
much to draw our minds inwards to the consideration of the events
they represent, as to cast them outwards to the larger process of the
world which those events illuminate ; that the sentiments to be aroused
by the doings and sufferings of the personages on his stage are not so
much hope and fear for their individual fortunes as pity and amuse-
ment at the importance which they set on them, and consolation for
their particular tragedies in the spectacle of the general comedy of
Life in which they are all merged ; that Tchekhof s dramatic philosophy
resembles in fact that modern theory of Physics which, instead of
seeking in Matter itself for the final explanation of its nature, regards
its constituent atoms as so many gaps or spaces in the primary sub-
stance, and turns the imagination outwards to contemplation of the
Ether of which they break the majestic continuity.
In real life there is nothing of which we are more urgently, though
less expressly, conscious, than the presence of other life humming
about us, than the fact that our experiences and our impulses are very
1 May 28, 1911.
little private to ourselves, almost always shared with a group of other
people. The private life of feelings and opinions is lived far down
beneath the surface, in the innermost recesses of the soul. The chief
springs of human conduct are group emotions ; and the groups with
which we share those emotions vary in magnitude from a man and his
companion to a nation, a continent, or a world.
For many reasons this truth, however well ascertained, has hardly
found its way as yet on to the stage. Tchekhof is a pioneer.
He shows us his little group of personages (there are never many
parts in his plays) all subjected to the same influence or generating
the same impulse at the same time. In most plays the action is con-
tinuous ; there are episodes, or byways, but all lead into the same
main road. In Tchekhof s plays many things are said and done which
have no bearing on the action, but are directed only to creating the
atmosphere. -The players have to show, by difference of tone and
gesture, when they are speaking to the action, which concerns them
as individuals, and when they are speaking to the atmosphere, which
concerns them as members of a group. The spectators have to dis-
tinguish what is painted in low tones and what stands sharply out,
in order to grasp the central design.
Sometimes the alternation of action-lines and atmosphere-lines is
very rapid, as in The Cherry Orchard, in which the author has carried
his method so far, that the surface seems as rough as that of a French
" vibrationist " picture seen close at hand, but, when looked at aright,
falls into a simple unity, and from that very roughness gets qualities
of life and light not otherwise attainable.
In The Seagull action and atmosphere are broken into masses large
enough to be easily distinguished. In the first two acts, for instance,
the author shows, by material symbols, the general tranquillity from
which the commotions of individual life emerge.
We are in a garden at night ; before us, a mile away, lies the seagull-
haunted lake, shining in the light of the moon ; about us hangs the
enchantment of rustic quietude; and in our midst, only half divined,
a storm is gathering that ultimately shatters the poetry of two young
lives. In the dim moonlight of this scene the personages lose their
individuality ; they become shadows against the landscape, drinking
in its beauty together, or setting off its grandeur by the banality of
their conversation. When this was performed at Glasgow ' all the
characters but Nina, Trigorin and Madame Arcadina were gathered in
a leisurely semicircle up-stage, facing the lake, some standing, some
lounging in garden chairs ; from time to time one sauntered across
or stretched his arms, or lighted a cigarette. There was an air of idly
trickling colloquy among them, and when Shamrayef told how the
famous Silva once took the low C in the opera-house at Moscow, his
1 Where Mr Wareing. the manager, bravely allowed me to do the producing.
discreet crescendo emerged only as a higher ripple of the un-
emphatic irony in the background.
In the second act, where a squall of nerves is brewing, the
conversation and behaviour of the personages have nothing to do
with the action of the piece, but are directed to convey the at-
mosphere of tedium and heat in which such squalls are possible.
Here we had yawns and fannings and moppings of the brow. With
the entrance of the boorish land agent the passive group-emotion
becomes suddenly active. Everyone abandons his listless attitude,
alert with the sense of impending perturbation. "There are no
horses to be had." A gust of anger goes through all the company ;
each breaks out in turn, according to the difference of his interest
The English method of acting is evidently ill-suited to Tchekhof s
work. The "centrifugal" Drama requires above all things "centri-
petal " acting, acting designed to restore the unity of impression.
The French and English pieces on which our players have been
brought up are so toughly made, their interest converges so
powerfully on a central theme, that, so far from troubling their
heads with restoring the unity, they have always been able to
indulge their natural propensity to make the parts they play "stand
out," like the choir-boy whose voice "was heard above the rest."
In the general struggle for conspicuity a sportsmanlike code has
been established to give everyone a fair chance. As each actor
opens his mouth to speak, the rest fall petrified into an uncanny
stillness, like the courtiers about the Sleeping Beauty, or those
pathetic clusters that one sees about a golf-tee, while one of the
players is flourishing at his ball in preparation for a blow. But it
is the very opposite of this cataleptic method that is required for
the acting of Tchekhof. His disjunctive manner is defeated of its
purpose unless the whole company keep continuously alive ; and
each line is so unmistakably coloured with the character of its
speaker that there is no need for the rest to hold their breath and
"point" that we may know who utters it.
In The Cherry Orchard, as the action of the play turns about the
sale of the estate, all the means that the stage-manager has at his
command for the differentiation of emphasis as position, movement,
change of pace in the delivery of the speeches should be used to
mark the superior importance of whatever concerns that transaction.
And above all, the principal parts should be given to players of such
imposing personality as to outweigh the rest of the company and
throw them, without effort, into the second place.
CONTRAST OF MOODS
It is an old trick of novelists and playwrights to make surrounding
Nature adapt herself to the moods of their personages ; to make the
dismal things happen in dismal weather, and the cheerful things in
sunshine. In real life people as often as not make love on a foggy
November morning and break it off on a moonlight night in June.
But the artificiality of the old method may be excused by the unity
of effect which it produces in the mind of the spectator.
There is a far finer effect however in disharmony, in contrasting
instead of attuning the personages and their environment.
In his " Letters on the French Stage," Heine retails an excellent
scene from a comedy called Mariez-voiw done ! where a man, driven
by the extravagance of his faithless wife to fiddle for his bread in a
low dancing-ken, relates his misfortunes to a friend, fiddling all the
while, and breaking off now and again to skip out among the dancers
with a " Chassex ! " or " En avant deux ! " The discord between his
narrative and his occupation sets before us in a very poignant fashion
the indifference of Life at large to the individual destiny.
Tchekhof has made a system of such contrasts ; you find them in
all his plays. One of the chief scenes in The Cherry Orchard recalls
the episode described by Heine. In Act III. we see Madame
Uanevsky waiting to learn the result of the auction. She sits in the
midst, a tragic figure, bewailing the imminent destruction of the
orchard that is haunted by so many memories of her childhood and
her ancestry. But everyone about her is indifferent ; they have got
in a band of Jewish fiddlers; a medley of ignoble guests and intrusive
underlings dances to its silly jigging, "a tedious latter-day dance,
with no life, no grace, no vigour in it, not even any desire of the
flesh ; and they do not realise that the very ground on which they
are dancing is passing away from under their feet." And for a
climax of grotesqueness the half-crazy German governess dresses
herself in a marionette costume, check trousers and tall hat, and
1 See Meyerhold's masterly analysis of the scene at p. 143 of the Shornik
" Teatr," issued by "Szipovnik" in 1908.
dances a pas seul somewhere in the background amid the applause
of the company.
The last act of The Seagull, where they sit down to play loto
("a tedious game, but all right when you're used to it"; it takes
the place of the dance music in The Cherry Orchard) while Sorin, fast
hurrying to his grave, dozes in a corner, and Constantine, the deserted
lover, wanders restless and melancholy about the house, is a whole
symphony of contrasted moods.
THE ILLUSION OF THE EGO
Subdued to the life about him, each pursues his own separate
thoughts and lives his own solitary life. This individual disjunction
is a sort of contrapuntal rejoinder to the group-scheme and leads to
the most penetratingly ironical discords and solutions.
At the card -table Trigorin and the doctor talk quite independently
of Constantine' s fortunes as an author ; Madame Arcadina chatters to
unheeding ears about her triumph at Kharkof and the bouquets that
the students gave her, while Masha, attending strictly to the business
of the game, cuts across them all with her incisive crying of the
So in Act II. when Madame Arcadina explains how she keeps so
young, nobody cares ; the dingy Masha laments her own decay, and
the Doctor, i-ather bored, turns back to the novel he was reading
In Act I. Constantine is all eagerness when the Doctor praises his
play and bids him persevere ; but his attention wanders as soon as
Dorn begins to explain why, and his next question is, " Excuse me,
where is Nina ? " to which Dorn replies by developing his critical
theory, and Constantine loses his temper.
There is a fine instance of this sort of counterpoint in IvdnoJ',
Kosykh, a gambler, dashes into the house of his friends to borrow
money, breaks up their conversation, buttonholes each in turn to
recount the debacle of a hand that looked like a grand slam :
KOSYKH. I had ace and queen of clubs and four others ; ace, ten
and a little one in spades . . .
LEBEDEF (stopping his ears). Spare me, spare me, for the love of
KOSYKH (to Shabelsky). You see ? Ace, queen and four other
clubs ; ace, ten and a little one in spades . . .
SHABELSKY (pushing him away). Go away! I don't want to
KOSYKH. We had the most infernal luck ; my ace of spades was
ruffed first round . . .
SHABELSKY (picking up a revolver). Go away, or I'll fire.
KOSYKH (with a gesture of despair). Good God ! There's not a
soul to talk to anywhere ! One might as well be in Australia ; no
solidarity, no common interests ; each lives his own life. . . . However,
I must be off.
TRAGEDY AND COMEDY
Life is never pure comedy or pure tragedy. Old age is always
pathetic, and usually ridiculous. The Universe does not stand still
in awe of our private successes or misfortunes.
Tchekhof had that fine comedic spirit which relishes the incongruity
between the actual disorder of the world and the underlying order.
Seeking as he did to throw our eyes outwards from the individual
destiny, to discover its relation to surrounding Life, he habitually
mingled tragedy (which is Life seen close at hand) with comedy
(which is Life seen from a distance). His plays are tragedies with the
texture of comedy.
Some of his characters he endows with his own insight. They see
their misfortunes, without malice, from the remote comedic point
of view. Old Sorin in The Seagul/, who is carrying to his grave a
keen regret for an unadventurous life, lived without passion, without
intensity, without achievement, spends his time in laughing. He
sees the fun of the solemn practical joke that Nature has played with
him. Masha, who is hopelessly and painfully in love with Constantinc
Treplef, 1 when she hears him playing a melancholy waltz to solace
his passion for someone else, instead of underlining the pathos,
pirouettes slowly to the music, humming, with outstretched arms,
before she comments on the situation.
As he developed his method Tchekhof sought more and more after
the particular quality of life to be derived from the admixture of
comedy with pathos. In his last play, The Cherry Orchard (his last
work indeed, produced only a month or two before his death), the
admixture seems at first sight excessive. Some of his personages
Yasha, Dunyasha, Ephikhodof, perhaps Charlotte and Gayef too would
not be out of place in a knockabout farce. Even the sage, Trophi'mof,
is made shabby and ridiculous, and sent tumbling downstairs at a
1 By what strange mistake that eminent Tchekhovian critic, the Russian Kichen-
wald, convinced himself that Masha was in love with Trigorin, I cannot imagine;
but he is very circumstantial about it. See " Pokrovsky," pp. 856, 857.
tragic moment. It is true that real life is just as unceremonious with
philosophers ; but for the moment one is shocked. Let it be noted
however that these folk are not random laughing-stocks ; they are
all sub-varieties of the species "nedotepa" or "job-lot," and arc
expressly designed to carry out the central motive of the play. And
are they indeed more farcical than actual people ? Perhaps the
respectable uniformity that we attribute to our fellow-men is all a
convention, an illusion ; they are in reality misshapen, gnomish and
grotesque ; we need a magician to open our eyes that we may see
them as they are. I remember having that feeling very strongly in
the street, on coming away from an exhibition of Mr Max Beerbohm's
But one should not begin with The Cherry Orchard. Art that is too
near to Nature always seems strange and unnatural. One should
approach gradually, by way of something more conventional, like The
GOOD AND EVIL
Tchekhof s endeavour to establish the true relation of Man to the
surrounding universe did not end in a system of artistic formulae ; it
was not a mere literary artifice ; it embraced a profound philosophy.
He endeavoured to establish Man's relation to his environment because
it is only by reference to his environment that Man's nature, his
doings and his sufferings, can rightly be interpreted.
To sever the individual, to abstract him in thought and try to
determine the forces that sway him without reference to the rest of
humanity, is as if a philosopher living at the sea's edge, by a gully in
the rocks, should watch the water rise and fall in his gully, should
observe the fishes and floating weeds and bits of wreckage that pass
through it, and endeavour to explain their appearance and disappear-
ance without taking into account the wide sea beyond, with its ebb
and flow and changing incidents. He would not be merely limited in
the scope of his conclusions ; he would be positively wrong. And so,
since ever we began to think in Europe, we have been wrong about Man.
To skip and rest and come to morals, we have been wrong, most
irreligiously wrong, about Good and Evil. Where suffering is due to
human agency we have sought in the individual, not merely for those
last movements which make the suffering actual, but for the very
fount and origin of Evil itself. We have attributed it to human
malevolence, to corrupt and wicked will. (For the Devil was always
half a clown and wholly irresponsible ; saving the perversity of indi-
vidual men and women he could at any time have been shut altogether
out from human life.)
But the Zeitgeist is slowly bringing a new doctrine to light in our
generation revealing it to divers at one time in different places
that Evil in the world does not arise from Evil in men, but is a constant
element in life, flowing not out of men's souls, but through them ;
that if we examine the causes of suffering, say, in London or St
Petersburg at any given moment, we shall find that almost all is
caused without evil intention, that it is the result of conditions over
which no single person has any control, or of individual action
prompted by motives of quite average innocence ; that there are in
fact no villains, or if there are, the amount of unhappiness they cause
is so small that it may be neglected in a general estimate.
The old doctrine, that the man who did the thing was in himself
the cause of his doing it, served well enough as a doctrine of the
criminal law, for the criminal law rests, like magic, not on a theory of
causation, but on the desire to express an emotion. But something
better is needed in the arts, for they go behind common life to search
out the hidden sequences.
I am afraid that this new doctrine of irresponsibility looks rather
like another of those paradoxes which the writers of this generation,
as is well known, now that all the true things have been said so often,
are driven to utter in order to get themselves any reputation of origi-
nality. It has an air of inconvenience about it. It will never have a
chance outside literature. It can have no hope of recognition among
those stout upholders of exploded superstitions, the leaders of the
Social Revolution. For with the legend of the Criminal Poor the
fable of the Wicked Rich must also go overboard ; and without that
particular myth in their shot-garlands, they might as well haul down
the red flag and put into port again.
Those two great platforms, the tub and the stage, both offer the
same temptation to those who discourse from them : to choose the
short way, not the right way, of convincing their auditors. When
you have only minutes or hours to expound what requires weeks or
years, it is no use trying to get new or right ideas into people's heads ;
the only thing to do is to execute variations on the old wrong ones
they have there already. And the doctrine that individual man is
the source of evil is such a handy one for the theatre ; villains afford
such a convenient machinery for developing our old favourite dramatic
action, the struggle of opposing wills. Our sympathies need to be
enlisted on this side or on that in the contest, by the assurance that
the one is right and the other wrong, or a play is likely to be as dull
as a cock-fight or a boxing-match where nobody cares which of the
Still, there is a growing disposition among the sept cents honnetes
gens, who are pregnant with the public opinion of the next generation,
to demand the Truth at any price (after all, Mankind will always adjust
itself to the Truth, if only the authorities will allow it) ; and this new
dogma of irresponsibility is at last beginning to grope its way on to
the boards. A certain semblance of it is to be found in Mr Gals-
worthy's plays ; but only a semblance ; for there is always a hobgoblin
there, a phantom of Society, with an uncommon resemblance to the
old bogle of the Wicked Rich, getting unmercifully thwacked in the
background. Mr Galsworthy, with his benevolent air, is a great
hater, essentially a thwacker. But Tchekhof was like Dostoyevsky ;
he hated nothing and no one. He would not have said, " Woe unto
you ! " even to the Pharisees, but would have written short stories to
explain their attitude.
For him the channels of Evil are innocent and lovable. Trigorin,
who desolates two happy young lives, wakens affection and com-
passion in the audience. Tchekhof made him the express image
of himself, as who should say, " We are all capable of this." Trigorin
seemed to himself to have recaptured the lost poetry of his
youth ; it was the instinct for beauty that set him on the adventure ;
it was by the irony of Life, not by the badness of his will, that his
desire for a beautiful thing destroyed it. He was a simple-minded
man with no vanities and no ambitions, with shy, kindly manners, a
man who took a harmless delight, like Tchekhof himself, in sitting
by a pond and fishing for chub with a worm and a float. Everybody
It is all very perverse, but it is the perversity of real life.
VILLAINS AND HEROES
Having no villains, it goes without saying that Tchekhof has no
heroes. His drama is not a drama of conflicting wills. He does not
invite you to stake your sympathies on this side or on that. All his
characters are ranged together against the common enemy, Life,
whether they are drawn up in two battalions or in one.
It is idle therefore to discuss where the author's sympathies lie in
The Cherry Orchard, whether with Lopakhin or with Madame Ranevsky
and her brother Gayef. And yet, thanks to the tradition of the theatre,
such a discussion is sure to arise every time that The Cherry Orchard is
seen on the stage. And the players will already have prejudged it by
the reading they have taken of their parts.
On the whole, after the Stage Society performance, the general
opinion was that the owners of the Cherry Orchard were meant to be
delightful people and Lopakhin a brute. And well-informed Russians
over here who had seen the piece in Moscow said that this opinion
was undoubtedly right, and that was the way it was played at the
Artistic Theatre, to the author's own satisfaction.
Nevertheless, for a hundred reasons, of which I will give only two
or three, this opinion is undoubtedly wrong. In the conflict of classes,
of traditions and ideals that shook his time, Tchekhof took no part.
" I am neither a liberal, nor a conservative, nor a moderate, nor a
monk, nor an indifferentist," he wrote to Pleshtcheyef. 1 " I want to
be a free artist and nothing more." (What we call the "fine" arts
are more finely called the "free" arts in Russia.) "You ought to
describe everyday love and family life without villains or angels," he
wrote to Leikin. 2 "Be objective," he wrote to Shtcheglof 3 ; "look
at everything with your customary kind eyes ; sit down and write us
a story or play of Russian life, not a criticism of Russian life, but the
joyful song of a goldfinch (shlchegld) about Russian life and human
life in general, life which is given us but once and which it is foolish
to waste on exposing the wickedness of " so and so.
To me he seems to have been most scrupulously fair in sharing out
the virtues and vices evenly to all his characters alike. Gayef and his
sister are warm-hearted, generous and picturesque, but then how
frivolous, how unpractical, how impossible ! They are still the noblesse,
but all the faculties of the noblesse for cleaving to their property have
evaporated out of them. I think he must have chosen the name
Gayef for the faint flavour that it has of gdyer, a mountebank. Lopa-
khin is illiterate and material ; his name suggests shovels and gobbling
(lopdty and lopat) ; but then how efficient he is, how useful to his
generation ! He is like St Nicholas, the ploughman-hero in the old
ballad, whistling gaily to his team as he drives a furrow from the
Dnieper to the Ural. He is tender-hearted and generous ; he is an
idealist, an artist in his way ; he has " thin delicate artist-fingers," he
has a "delicate artist-soul." A great part of him indeed is Tchekhof
himself. Tchekhof s grandfather was a serf and his father kept a
grocer's shop in Taganrog. " Peasant blood flows in my veins," he
writes to Suvorin : " and you cannot astonish me with the virtues of
the peasantry. I have always believed in Progress from my child-
hood up, and could not help believing in it, for the difference between
the time when I used to get thrashed and the time when I stopped
getting thrashed was something tremendous." It might be Lopakhin
1 " letters," i. 159. (For a full description of the books referred to in these notes
see the Bibliography at the end of the volume.)
a Leikin," p. 375.
"Letters," i. 230.
No; Lopakhin is neither the villain nor the hero of The Cherry
Orchard, There is no villain and no hero. Tchekhof is merely
singing a song of Russian life and human life in general ; not indeed
the "joyful song of a goldfinch/' but rather the plaintive elegy of a
ringdove, contemplating our troubled world, a " free artist/' from the
solitude of the woods. 1
Mr Maurice Baring, our principal expounder of modern Russian
literature, says the great thing about it is that it represents ordinary
life ; he says that the Russian goes to the theatre to see what he
sees every day outside the theatre; that Tchekhof chooses for the
action of his plays "moments which appear at first sight to be
What a tedious and unnecessary literature it would be if that were
true ! What, however, are Tolstoy's themes ? Seduction and adultery,
battle, murder and sudden death. Dostoyevsky's ? An innocent
gentleman in a felon's prison, a student assassin hunted by the police,
a girl who sold her virtue to feed her family. Tchekhof s ? There is
only one of his plays that does not end with a pistol-shot ; they con-
tain two suicides, a duel and an attempted murder. Surely Mr Baring
must have been very unfortunate if he thinks that this is everyday
Russian life !
Is it not plain that, Russians and English, we all go to the theatre
to see what we do not see in everyday life ? For in everyday life we
see, with undiscerning eyes, only the little corner penetrated by our
own routine. Playwrights show us men and women in extraordinary
circumstances ; for it is only extraordinary circumstances that reveal
the secrets of their nature and illuminate the whole path of their
The differentia of Tchekhof is that the extraordinary moments
which explode in pistol-shots are never the result of sudden causes,
but are brought about by the cumulative tragedy of daily life ; not
ordinary daily life, in the sense of everyone's daily life, but the life
of men tragically situated, like Treplef, or Ivanof, or Uncle Vanya.
1 By no means all well-informed Russians maintain that Lopakhin is the
villain of the piece. Gorky, Karpof and G. Petroff (see a deeply-felt article by
him "In Defence of Lopakhin" in "The Tchekhof Jubilee Sbornik") look on him
as the hero ; indeed, Merezhkovsky says, " All the Russian Intelligenz applauded
this triumph of the new life."
2 " Landmarks in Russian Literature," p. 21.
If the Russians are realists, it is not because they go to real life for
their matter. Every artist goes to real life for his matter, and from
its chaos brings us an idea. Even the least realistic artists are con-
cerned with life to that extent ; and the tragedies of Corneille and
Racine are just as much extracts of life as the comedies of Ibsen or
Mr Granville Barker.
The specific difference of the realist is that, having extracted his
idea, instead of further distilling the extract (as the Classicist does)
or disguising it with mysterious essences (as the Romantic does), he
endeavours to restore to it the flavour of reality. He endeavours to
manifest the very texture and illusion of Life itself. Having un-
ravelled a thread, he shows it us with a new artful tangle of his own,
cheating us by its resemblance to the tangle of the skein from which
he drew it. 1
The Realist does not copy Life (the result would be meaningless) ;
he explains it (that is the business of Art) and gives his explanation
the air of a copy. His intention is to take in simple-minded people.
What a triumph to have taken in Mr Baring !
There is one commandment in the decalogue of Realism that
Tchekhof habitually breaks, and that is the commandment forbidding
soliloquies. This is a law which no playwright must disregard if he
would pass for modern. Indeed, one is often puzzled and embarrassed
by the sudden silence which descends on a talkative stage-personage,
when, by the exit of the others, he happens to be left by himself for
a moment on the scene. If he says " Pshaw," or sighs, or clears his
throat, it is the most you can expect of him. Usually he lights a
But Tchekhof s plays are full of soliloquies ; and I venture to
protest that Tchekhof is right and the rest are wrong. Certainly the
old-fashioned "aside," by which the comedian treated his audience as
a confidential friend, winked and grinned, poked it, as it were, in the
ribs and invited it to laugh with him at the rest of the company
1 It is, in the same way, by their method, not by their subject-matter, that Classicism
and Romanticism are to be distinguished. "The expressions Classical and Romantic
refer only to the spirit of the treatment. The treatment is classical when the form of
the representation is identical with the idea represented ; the treatment is romantic
when the form docs not reveal the idea through identity, but lets us divine it by an
allegory " (Heine, " Ucutschland," Book I.).
that was a stupid thing, a mere trick, like cheeking the bandmaster
in a pantomime. But to banish that other kind of solitary speaking,
by which a man conveys to the audience what is passing in his mind
when they could have no other means of learning it, is altogether a
mistake. For what, after all, is the subject-matter of a play ? It is not
mere outward action ; it is also thought and will culminating in action,
and this latter element is, to the judicious spectator, "much the noblest"
part of Drama, and indeed, with Tchekhof, the greater part ; for his
plays, rightly understood, are more than half soliloquy ; the characters
seem to converse, but in reality sit side by side and think aloud. 1
" Our inner life moves in monologues from morning to night, and
even our dreams are still monologues of the soul. They are not
spoken aloud, that is all ; that is the outward difference over which
our petty little modern code of aesthetics makes so much ado," says an
excellent critic of latter-day drama. 2
It is true that a man does not talk aloud when he is left alone in a
room ; but then, to be consistent, we should also drop the curtain, for
when a man is alone no one sees him.
Tchekhof did not often use symbols in the old-fashioned sense,
material objects adumbrating immaterial meanings, designed to catch
attention by their superficial irrelevance, like the lambs and lilies of
pictured saints. Certainly the eponymous seagull that flew about the
lake, and then was shot and stuffed and fixed on a wooden stand, is a
symbol of that kind, in itself neither better nor worse than the sort of
symbols that Ibsen was fond of using ; only Tchekhof used his
symbol beautifully and pathetically, while in Ibsen's use of symbols,
such as that tower from which the Master-builder fell, while his sweet-
heart hopped about and waved a flag like a suffragette, or that wild
duck which the old gentleman kept in the attic, there is always a touch
of ugliness and insanity.
Except the seagull I can recall no other example in Tchekhof s
plays of a symbol of the artless kind that can be stored in the property-
room. But there is a more beautiful and recondite Symbolism, one
that harmonises better with the realistic method, and that is the
Symbolism by which the events of the Drama are not merely repre-
sented for their own sake but stand also as emblems and generalisa-
1 Sec Eichenwald in " Pokrovsky," p. 891.
2 R. von Gottschall, "Zur Kritik des moderncn Dramas," 1900, p. 117.
tions about life at large. The relation of the characters to each other
in The Seagull, for instance, evidently symbolises the universal
frustration of desire (and how intensely the author carries this idea
through all the play !) : Medvedenko is in love with Masha, Masha is
in love with Constantine, Constantine is in love with Nina, Nina is in
love with Trigorin, Pauline is in love with Dorn, and Dorn is in love
with himself. Each yearns to change his lot, to go back or to go
forward. Trigorin wants youth, Nina and Treplef want glory ;
Trigorin has it but has never noticed it ; he can only suppose that it
" produces no sensation."
Perhaps at bottom all plays are symbolical. Perhaps Life itself is
symbolical, and the pursuit of women's love is, as Maupassant divined,
only an allegory and image of the pursuit of that "beaute mystique,
entrevue et insaisissable " towards which some Protean instinct of
our nature urges us.
The Russian critics are sure that there is a message of substantial
hope in Tchekhof s plays, just as the shepherds in Tchekhofs story,
" Happiness," are sure that there is gold hidden in the old Tartar
barrows on the steppe. Again and again his characters aver that
this age of folly and wrong is drawing to an end, that in two or
three hundred years (the date is always given) we may confidently
look for the Millennium. And this, they say, is not dramatic and
irresjxmsible ; it represents his own view. In private life he more
than once declared his faith in Progress. " How beautiful life will
be in another three hundred years ! " " Once upon a time this
place was a wilderness covered with stones and thistles," he said to
Kiiprin in the garden of his Yalta villa ; ' " but I came and cultivated
it and made it beautiful " ; then, with an earnest face and in tones of
the deepest conviction, " In two or three hundred years all the earth
will become a garden full of flowers." Almost the very words used
by Trophfmof and repeated by the trustful Any a in The Cherry Orchard?
Well, if anyone finds comfort in believing that Tchekhofs plays
support this doctrine of shallow optimism, let him believe it ! To
me it seems the dolefullest renunciation of all hope. If Tchekhof,
who saw so clearly that in real life all tales end badly, had to console
himself by supposing that some day they would all begin to end well,
it is enough to strike panic into one. Is Life then really so bad that
strong earnest men must needs become timid and frivolous rather
than face the conclusions to which reason leads them ?
1 See "Pdmyati TcWkhova," 1906, p. 104.
2 In a letter which he wrote in 1902 to Dyagilef, Tchekhof changed the date to
" tens of thousands of years" ahead (" Letters, p. 262). De Vogue", in a refreshing
article, full of cold water, describes his attitude as " un dcouragement absolu
quant au present, corrig par un vague mille'narisme, par une foi tremblotante au
progres indlfini " (A'evue cki Deux Afondes, January 1902).
I fancy the Russian critics are mistaken. Tchekhof probably said
many foolish things in private life, as other great men have done ;
but J doubt if he repeated them in the same good faith when the
wisdom of the artist descended on him. The satirist, like every
other writer, goes to himself for much of his material ; pen in hand
he sees his own foibles with the sobriety of inspiration. Do not
believe that Tchekhof the dramatist was gulled by the enthusiasms
of that Tchekhof who walked in the garden at Yalta ! It is all his
sad fun. Into whose mouth does he put the hopefullest sentiments
in The Cherry Orchard ? Into the mouth of Trophimof, the " mouldy
gentleman," " Pierre the Ploughman " ; a fine guarantor for the
Millennium ! Is not the whole play strown with the shattered
illusions of the Trophi'mofs of the generation before, the men who
thought that in Emancipation and Education they had found the
talisman ? And that constant reference to the date of its advent,
the precision of the " two or three hundred years," did Tchekhof not
relish the irony of that ?
Surely it is another piece of Symbolism. Each generation believes
that it stands on the boundary line between an old bad epoch and a
good new one. And still the world grows no better ; rather worse ;
hungrier, less various, less beautiful. That is true ; but there is
consolation in the assurance that whatever becomes of this husk of a
planet, the inner meaning of it, hope itself, God, man's ideal, con-
tinually progresses and develops. If that is not what Tchekhof
meant, it seems at anyrate the best interpretation of what he
P.S. I ought to have mentioned that Tchekhof was born in I860,
studied medicine at Moscow, and died in 1904.
The Seagull was first produced in 1896 at
the A lexandrynsky Theatre, one of the State
theatres in St Petersburg. It was a failure ;
it was hissed. " Everybody assured me
that the characters were all lunatics,"
Tchekhof wrote to a friend (" Letters,"
p. 224) : " that my play was clumsy in
technique, that it was stupid, obscure, idiotic
even. . . ." He fled to the country and
swore that he would write no more for the
The next year Stanislavsky put it on at the
Artistic Theatre in Moscow, and it was a
brilliant success. Since then Tchekhof s
plays and Stanislavsky's playhouse have
made each other famous.
Played at the Glasgow Repertory Theatre in November 1909.
MADAME ARCADINA, an actress
CONSTANTINE TREPLEF, her SOW
S6RIN, her brother
NINA, daughter of a rich landowner
SHAMRAYEF, retired lieutenant, Manager of
PAULINE, his wife
MASHA, their daughter
TRIG6RIN, a writer
DORN, a doctor
MEDVEDENKO, a schoolmaster
Miss MARY JERROLD
Mr MILTON ROSMER
Mr LAURENCE HANRAY
Miss IRENE CLARKE
Mr HUBERT HARBEN
Miss MARIE HUDSPETH
Miss LOLA DUNCAN
Mr CAMPBELL GULLAN
Mr M. R. MORAND
Mr PERCEVAL CLARK
Mr GEORGE WYLEY
Miss EVA CHAPLIN
THE ACTION 1 TAKES PLACE ON SORIN'S ESTATE.
TWO YEARS ELAPSE BETWEEN ACTS III. AND IV.
1 Or " inaction," as Count de Vogue prefers to call it.
In the park of SORIN'S estate. A broad avenue runs away from
the spectators into the depths of the park towards a lake ; the
avenue is blocked by a rough stage knocked together for
amateur theatricals, concealing the lake. Bushes to right
and left. A table and chairs.
The sun has just set. On the stage, behind the curtain, which is
down, are YAKOF and other workmen ; coughing and
Enter MASHA and MEDVEDENKO, returning from a walk
MEDVEDENKO. Why do you always wear black ?
MASHA. I'm in mourning for my life. I am unhappy.
MEDVEDENKO. Why ? (Reflectively) I don't understand. . . .
You're healthy, and though your father is not rich he is quite
well off. My life is far heavier to bear than yours. I'm paid
only forty-eight shillings a month, minus a deduction for the
pension fund ; but for all that I don't wear mourning. (They
MASHA. It isn't a question of money. Even a pauper may
MEDVEDENKO. In theory, yes ; but in point of practice,
there's me and my mother, two sisters and my brother, and my
salary's only forty -eight shillings a month. One must eat and
drink, eh ? One must have tea and sugar ; one must have
tobacco. There's no getting round that.
MASHA (looking round at the stage). The play begins very
26 THE SEAGULL ACT i
MEDVEDENKO. Yes. Nina Zare'tchnaya is to act, and the
play is by Constantine Tre"plef. They are in love with each
other and to-day their spirits will unite in the effort to produce
a common artistic image. But my spirit and yours have no
common points of contact. I love you ; I cannot sit at home
for longing for you ; every day I come four miles on foot and
four miles back again and meet only with a non possumus *
on your part. Naturally. I have no means ; we're a big
family. Why should anyone want to marry a man who
cannot even feed himself ?
MASHA. Fiddlesticks. (Taking snuff.) I am touched by
your affection, but I cannot return it ; that's all. (Offering
him the snuff box.) Help yourself.
MEDVEDENKO. Not for me. (A pause.)
MASHA. It's very close ; we shall probably have a storm
to-night. You are always either philosophising or talking
about money. You think there is no greater misfortune than
poverty ; but I think it is a thousand times easier to wear rags
and beg for bread than . . . However, you wouldn't under-
Enter SORIN and TREPLEF, R.
SORIN (leaning on a stick). My dear boy, I never do feel at
home in the country. And naturally, I'm too old to get used
to it now. I went to bed at ten last night and woke this morn-
ing at nine, feeling as if my brain were sticking to my skull
from too much sleep and all the rest of it. (Laughing.) After
dinner I fell asleep again without intending it, and now
I'm all to pieces, still suffering from nightmare, confound it
all. . . .
TREPLEF. Yes, you ought to live in town. (Seeing MASHA
and MEDVEDENKO.) Hullo ! You'll be called when the play
begins ; but you mustn't sit here now. I must ask you to^go
1 Non possumus. The village pedant emerges. In the Russian, Medvedenko
says " indifferentism " instead of " ravnodriszie," indifference. The words
are so much alike in English that a literal rendering would spoil the point.
ACT i THE SEAGULL 27
SORIN (to MASHA). Marya Ilyinitchna, would you kindly ask
your father to have that dog unchained, to keep it from
howling ? My sister had another sleepless night.
MASHA. You must speak to my father yourself. I'm not
going to. So please don't ask me. (To MEDVEDENKO.)
MEDVEDENKO (to TREPLEF). Let us know before the play
[Exeunt MEDVEDENKO and MASHA
SORIN. That means that the dog will howl all night again.
There you are ! I've never had my own way in the country.
In the old days, whenever I took a month's holiday and came
here to recoup and all the rest of it, I was always worried so
with every sort of nonsense, that before the first day was out I
was wishing myself back again. (Laughing.) I always enjoyed
the going away most. . . . And now I've retired, I've no-
where to go to, confound it all. Whether one likes it or not
one's got to lump it. ...
YAKOF (from the stage, to TREPLEF). We're going to have a
bathe, Constantine Gavrilitch.
TREPLEF. All right. But you must be back at your places
in ten minutes. (Looking at his watch.) It begins very soon.
YAKOF. Very good, sir. (Exit.)
TREPLEF (glancing at the stage). What do you think of that
for a theatre ? Curtain, first wing, second wing, and then
empty space. No scenery. You look straight on to the lake
and the horizon. The curtain goes up at exactly half-past
eight, when the moon rises.
SORIN. Magnificent !
TREPLEF. If Nina is late, of course the whole effect will
be spoilt. It's time she arrived. Her father and stepmother
are always watching her, and it's as hard for her to escape
from the house as it is for a prisoner to escape from jail.
(Puts his uncle's tie straight.) Your hair and beard are
all rumpled. You ought to have them cut, don't you
28 THE SEAGULL ACT i
SORIN (smoothing out his beard). It's the tragedy of my life.
Even when I was young I always looked as if I had taken to
drink and all the rest of it. Women never loved me. (Sitting.)
Why is your mother in such low spirits ?
TREPLEF. Oh, she's bored. (Sitting by him.) She's jealous.
She's already hostile to me and to the whole performance,
because it's Nina Zaretchnaya acting and not she. She hates
my play, even before she's seen it.
SORIN (laughing). Well I never ! Well I never !
TREPLEF. She is vexed at the idea of Nina Zaretchnaya and
not herself having a success even in this poor little theatre.
(Looking at his watch.) She is a psychological curiosity, is my
mother. A clever and gifted woman, who can cry over a novel,
will reel you off all Nekrasof 's poems * by heart, and is the
perfection of a sick nurse ; but venture to praise Eleonora
Duse before her ! Oho ! ho ! You must praise nobody but
her, write about her, shout about her, and go into ecstasies over
her wonderful performance in La Dame aux Cornelias, or
The Fumes of Life 2 ; but as she cannot have these intoxi-
cating pleasures down here in the country, she's bored and
gets spiteful ; we are her enemies, she thinks ; it's all our
fault. Then, she's superstitious, is afraid of the number
thirteen, or three candles on a table. 3 She's a miser, too.
She has seven thousand pounds in the bank at Odessa ; I
know it for certain. But ask her to lend you anything and
SORIN. You have got it into your head that she doesn't
1 Nekrdsof's poems. This shows her tender heart. Nekrasof is one of the
apMres de la pititfsociale.
* Fumes of Life. A play by B. Markevitch, produced under the title
dlga Rdntseva at the Alexandrynsky Theatre, St Petersburg, in 1888.
Madame Arcadina evidently starred the provinces in the principal r61es of the
famous Sdvina. We may imagine her also as Magda and the Second Mrs
Tanqueray. Sdvina, by the by, played Arcadina in The Seagull ; Arcadina
would have insisted on playing Nina.
8 Three candles on a table. A presage of death ; for in Russia three candles
are put by a dead body, two at the head and one at the feet. The same
superstition holds in Ireland.
ACT i THE SEAGULL 29
like your play, and you are nervous and all the rest of it. Set
your mind at rest, your mother worships you.
TREPLEF (pulling the petals from a flower). She loves me, she
loves me not, she loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, she
loves me not. (Laughs.) You see, my mother doesn't love me.
Why should she ? She wants to live, to love, to wear pretty
frocks ; and I, I am twenty-five years old, and a perpetual
reminder that she is no longer young. When I'm not there,
she is only thirty-two ; when I am, she's forty-three, and she
hates me for that. She also knows that I don't believe in the
stage. She loves the stage ; she thinks that she is advancing the
cause of humanity and her sacred art ; but I regard the stage
of to-day as mere routine and prejudice. When the curtain
goes up and the gifted beings, the high priests of the sacred art,
appear by electric light, in a room with three sides to it, re-
presenting how people eat, drink, love, walk and wear their
jackets ; when they strive to squeeze out a moral from the flat,
vulgar pictures and the flat, vulgar phrases, a little tiny moral,
easy to comprehend and handy for home consumption, when in
a thousand variations they offer me always the same thing over
and over and over again then I take to my heels and run, as
Maupassant ran from the Eiffel Tower, which crushed his brain
by its overwhelming vulgarity.
SORIN. We can't get along without the stage.
TREPLEF. We must have new formulae. That's what we
want. And if there are none, then it's better to have nothing
at all. (Looks at his watch.) I love my mother, I love her
dearly ; but it's a tomfool life that she leads with this novelist
always at her elbow, and her name for ever in the papers
it disgusts me ! Sometimes it is just the egotism of the ordinary
man that speaks in me ; I am sorry that I have a famous
actress for my mother, and I feel that if she had been an
ordinary woman I should have been happier. Uncle Peter,
what position could be more hopeless and absurd than mine
was at home with her V Her drawing-room Tilled with nothing
but celebrities, actors and writers, and among them all the only
30 THE SEAGULL ACT i
nobody, myself, tolerated only because I was her son. Who
am I ? What am I ? Sent down from the University without
a degree through circumstances for which the editor cannot hold
himself responsible, as they say ; with no talents, without a
farthing, and according to my passport a Kief artisan ; for my
father was officially reckoned a Kief artisan, although he was a
famous actor. So that when these actors and writers in her
drawing-room graciously bestowed their attention on me, it
seemed to me that they were merely taking the measure of
my insignificance; I guessed their thoughts and felt the
SORIN. What sort of man is this novelist, by the by ? I
can't make him out. He never talks.
TREPLEF. Intelligent, simple, inclined to melancholy.
Quite a good chap. Famous already before he's forty, and
sated with everything. ... As for his writings . . . what
shall I say ? Charming, talented . . . but . . . you wouldn't
want to read Trigorin after Tolstoy or Zola.
SORIN. I love literary people, my boy. There was a time
when I passionately desired two things ; I wanted to be
married, and I wanted to be a literary man, but neither of them
came my way. Ah ! how pleasant to be even an unknown
writer, confound it all.
TREPLEF (listening). I hear someone coming. (Embracing
SORIN.) I cannot live without her. . . . Even the sound of
her footsteps is charming. ... I am insanely happy.
Enter NINA. TREPLEF goes quickly to meet her.
TREPLEF. My lovely one, my dream. . . .
NINA (agitated). I'm not late . . . I'm sure I'm not late. . . .
TREPLEF (kissing her hands). No, no, no. . . .
NINA. I've been so anxious all day ; I was so frightened.
I was afraid father would not let me come. . . . But at last
he's gone out, just now, with my stepmother. There's a red
glow in the sky, the moon is beginning to rise, and I whipped
up the horses as fast as I could. (Laughing.) But I am happy
now. (Squeezing SORIN'S hand heartily.)
ACT i THE SEAGULL 31
SORIN (laughing). You've been crying, I can see. . . .
Hey, hey ! You naughty girl !
NINA. It's quite true. You see how out of breath I am.
I've got to go in half-an-hour ; we must hurry. I must, I
must ; don't detain me for heaven's sake. Father doesn't
know I'm here.
TREPLEF. It's quite true, it's time to begin. I must go and
call the others.
SORIN. I'll go, I'll go, confound it all. I won't be a minute.
(Goes R., singing.) " To France were returning two Grena-
diers ! " (Looks round.) I remember I started singing like
that one day, and an Assistant Procureur * who was standing
by said : " Your Excellency, you have a very strong voice."
Then he pondered, and added : " Strong, but ugly ! "
NINA. My father and his wife won't let me come here.
They say that you are all Bohemians. . . . They are afraid
of my becoming an actress. But I am drawn towards the lake
like a seagull. My heart is full of you. (Looks round.)
TREPLEF. We are alone.
NINA. Isn't there someone over there ?
TREPLEF. No, there's no one. (Kissing her.)
NINA. What sort of tree is that ?
TREPLEF. It's an elm.
NINA. Why is it so dark ?
TREPLEF. It's evening already ; everything looks darker.
Don't go away early, I entreat you.
NINA. 1 must.
TREPLEF. Shall I drive over to-night, Nina ? I will stand
all night in the garden and look up at your window.
i Assistant Procureur. Some cheeky junior of forty. Sorin's career has
been passed among Procureurs and Assistant Procureurs, a special breed of
prosecuting counsel attached to the Ministry of Justice. He has worked his
way up to the dignity of Over- Procureur, with the title of Actual State Coun-
cillor , on a level with Major-Generals and Rear-Admirals according to Peter
the Great's Table of Comparative Precedence.
THE SEAGULL ACT i
NINA. You mustn't. The watchman will see you. Tresor
is not used to you yet ; he'll bark.
TREPLEF. I love you.
NINA. 'Sh !
TREPLEF (hearing footsteps). Who's there ? Is that you,
YAKOF (on the stage). Yes, sir.
TREPLEF. Get to your places. It's time to begin. Is the
moon up ?
YAKOF. Yes, sir.
TREPLEF. Have you the methylated spirits ? And the
sulphur ? (To NINA.) When the red eyes appear, there has
to be a smell of sulphur. You'd better go, you'll find every-
thing there. Are you nervous ?
NINA. Yes, very. I don't mind your mother ; I'm not
afraid of her ; but Trigorin will be here. I am frightened at
acting before him. Such a famous writer ! Is he young ?
NINA. What wonderful stories he writes !
TREPLEF (coldly). Does he ? I don't read them.
NINA. Your play is very hard to act. There are no live
people in it.
TREPLEF. Live people ! why should there be ? A writer's
business is not to represent life as it is ; nor as he thinks it
ought to be, but as it appears in reveries.
NINA. There's very little action in your piece ; it is all
lines. 1 And I think a play ought always to have a love interest
in it. ...
[Exeunt behind the stage
Enter PAULINE and DORN
PAULINE. It is getting damp. Go back and put on your
DORN. I'm too hot.
PAULINE. You take no care of yourself. It's all obstinacy.
1 Lines. Russian, czitka, a piece of theatrical slang that Nina is no doubt
pleased at knowing.
ACT i THE SEAGULL 33
You're a doctor, and you know perfectly well that the damp
air is bad for you ; but you like to give me pain ; you sat on
the verandah the whole of yesterday evening on purpose.
DORN (singing). " Say not that I have spoilt thy youth."
PAULINE. You were so taken up talking to Madame Arca-
dina, you did not notice the cold. Confess, that you admire her.
DORN. I am fifty-five.
PAULINE. Nonsense, that's not old for a man. You are
well preserved and women still admire you.
DORN. Then what do you want of me ?
PAULINE. You men are always ready to fall down and
grovel before an actress. Always !
DORN (singing). " Once more, once more before thee, love.'*
If society is fond of actors and actresses and treats them
differently, for instance, from shopkeepers, that is very natural.
That is idealism.
PAULINE. Women have always fallen in love with you, and
thrown themselves at your head. Is that idealism too ?
DORN (shrugs his shoulders). Why, there has always been
something charming in the relation of women to me. What they
principally liked in me was the skilful doctor. Ten or fifteen
years ago, you remember, I was the only decent accoucheur
in the whole province. Besides, I was always an honest man.
PAULINE (taking his hand). My beloved !
DORN. Hush ! There's somebody coming.
Enter ARCADINA, arm-in-arm with SORIN, TRIGORIN, SHAM-
RAYEF, MEDVEDENKO, MASHA
SHAMRAYEF. In 1873 at the Fair at Poltava she acted
superbly ! A wonderful piece of acting ! Do you happen to
know too what's become of Chadin, Paul Chadin, the
comedian ? As Raspluyef he was simply Al ; better than
Sadovsky, 1 1 assure you. What's become of him ?
1 Better than Sadovsky. This is like saying : He was simply splendid in
Id on parle fran^ais ; much funnier than Toole, I can assure you. Sadovsky
was a Moscow star who died in 1872 ; Raspluyef is a low-comedy character
in Sukhovo-Kobylin's play, Kretchinsky 1 s Wedding.
34 THE SEAGULL ACT i
ARCADINA. You are always wanting to know about some-
body before the flood. How should I know ? (Sits.)
SIIAMRAYEF (sighing). Good old Paul Chadin ! We have
no one like that now. The stage has gone to the dogs, Irina
Nikolayevna. There were mighty oaks in the old days, but
now we see nothing but stumps.
DORN. There are not many really brilliant people on the
stage now, that is true ; but the average actor is far better.
SHAMRAYEF. I can't agree with you. However, it's a
matter of taste. De gustibus aut bene, aut nihil.
TREPLEF comes out from behind the stage.
ARCADINA. My dear child, when does the thing begin ?
TREPLEF. In a minute. Please be patient.
ARCADINA : " My son,
Thou turnst mine eyes into my very soul,
And there I see such blank and grained spots
As will not leave their tinct."
TREPLEF. " Leave wringing of your hands. Peace, sit you
And let me wring your heart.' ' 1 (A horn is blown
from the stage.) Now then, the play begins. Attention, please !
(A pause.) I speak first. (He thumps with a stick ; raising his
voice.) Hearken, ye venerable ancient shades, that hover in the
night-time over this lake ; send sleep upon us and let us dream
of what will be in 200,000 years.
SORIN. In 200,000 years there will be nothing at all.
TREPLEF. Then let them represent that nothing to us.
ARCADINA. Come on ! We sleep.
The curtain rises ; the view opens on the lake ; the moon is above
the horizon, reflected in the water:, NINA discovered sitting
on a rock, dressed in white.
NINA. Men and lions, eagles and partridges, antlered deer,
1 In the Russian Treplef answers with a garbled version of Shakespeare's
"nasty sty" lines. If we quoted them, we should have to be inconveniently
exact. For this excellent substitute the translator is indebted to the in-
genuity of Mr Hauray, who played Sorin in Glasgow.
ACT i THE SEAGULL 35
geese, spiders, the silent fishes dwelling in the water, star-fish
and tiny creatures invisible to the eye these and every form
of life, ay, every form of life, have ended their melancholy
round and become extinct. . . . Thousands of centuries have
passed since this earth bore any living being on its bosom.
All in vain does yon pale moon light her lamp. No longer do
the cranes wake and cry in the meadows ; the hum of the
cockchafers is silent in the linden groves. All is cold, cold, cold.
Empty, empty, empty. Terrible, terrible, terrible. (A pause.)
The bodies of living beings have vanished into dust ; the
Eternal Matter has converted them into stones, into water,
into clouds ; and all their spirits are merged in one. I am that
spirit, the universal spirit of the world. In me is the spirit
of Alexander the Great, of Caesar, of Shakespeare, of Napoleon,
and of the meanest of leeches. In me the consciousness of
men is merged with the instinct of animals ; I remember every-
thing, everything, everything, and in myself relive each
individual life. 1
Marsh fires appear.
ARCADINA (in a low voice). This is going to be something
TREPLEF (with reproachful entreaty}. Mother !
NINA. I am alone. Once in a hundred years I open my
lips to speak, and my voice echoes sadly in this emptiness and
no one hears. . . . You too, pale fires, you hear me not. . . .
The corruption of the marsh engenders you towards morning,
and you wander till the dawn, but without thought, without
will, without throb of life. Fearing lest life should arise in
1 The play attributed to Constantino is of course a kindly skit on the
Decadents. But the philosophy at the bottom of it is a distorted image of the
Pantheistic creed which Tchekhof really held. According to Merezhkovsky
(p. 54) Deism (and this includes Christianity) is extinct among thinking
Russians ; they are all Pantheists (not Atheists, as Mr Maurice Baring
tendentiously alleges) ; God for them is neither more nor less than the sum
total of all mundane spirits. For Tchekhof, even to pick flowers was a
kind of sacrilege (" Na Pamyat," p. 12).
36 THE SEAGULL ACT i
you, the father of Eternal Matter, the Devil, effects in you, as
in stones and water, a perpetual mutation of atoms ; you
change unceasingly. In all the universe spirit alone remains
constant and unchanging. (A pause.) Like a captive flung
into a deep empty well, I know not where I am nor what awaits
me. One thing only is revealed to me, that in the cruel and
stubborn struggle with the Devil, the principle of material
forces, it is fated that I shall be victorious ; and thereafter,
spirit and matter are to merge together in exquisite harmony
and the reign of Universal Will is to begin. But that cannot
be till, little by little, after a long, long series of centuries, the
moon, the shining dog-star and the earth are turned to dust. . . .
Till then there shall be horror and desolation. . . . (A pause;
against the background of the lake appear two red spots.)
Behold, my mighty antagonist, the Devil, approaches. I
see his awful, blood-red eyes . . .
ARCADINA. There's a smell of sulphur. Is that part of it ?
ARCADINA (laughing). I see, a scenic effect.
TREPLEF. Mother !
NINA. He is lonely without man.
PAULINE (to DORN). Why, you've taken your hat off.
Put it on again, or you'll catch cold.
ARCADINA. The doctor's taking off his hat to the Devil, the
father of Eternal Matter.
TREPLEF (angry, in a loud voice). The play is over ! That's
enough ! Curtain !
ARCADINA. What are you angry about ?
TREPLEF. That's enough. Curtain ! Lower the curtain !
(Stamping.) Curtain ! (The curtain is lowered.) I must
apologise. I ought to have remembered that only a few
chosen spirits can write plays or act them. I have been
infringing the monopoly. You ... I ... (Is about to
add something, but makes a gesture of renouncing the idea, and
ARCADINA. What's the matter with him ?
ACT i THE SEAGULL 37
SORIN. Irene, my dear, you oughtn't to treat a young man's
amour propre like that.
ARCADINA. Why, what have I said ?
SORIN. You have hurt his feelings.
ARCADINA. He warned us beforehand that it was all a joke ;
I've only taken him at his word and treated it as a joke.
SORIN. But still . . .
ARCADINA. And now it appears that he has written a master-
piece. Mercy on us ! So he has got up this performance and
stifled us with brimstone not as a joke, but as a demonstration.
. . . He wanted to teach us how to write and what we ought
to act. Really, this sort of thing gets tedious ! These per-
petual digs and pinpricks would wear out the patience of a
saint. He's a peevish, conceited boy.
SORIN. He only wanted to give you pleasure.
ARCADINA. Did he ? Then why couldn't he choose some
ordinary sort of play, instead of making us listen to this de-
cadent nonsense ? I don't mind listening to nonsense now and
again for fun ; but this pretends to show us new forms, a new
era in art. I see no new forms in it ; I see nothing but an evil
TRIGORIN. Everyone writes as he wants to, and as he can.
ARCADINA. Let him write as he wants and can, and wel-
come ; only let him leave me in peace.
DORN (singing). "Great Jove, art angry yet" . . .
ARCADINA. I'm not Jove, I'm a woman. (Lighting a
cigarette.) Besides, I'm not angry ; I only think it's a pity
that a young man should spend his time so tediously. I had no
intention of hurting his feelings.
MEDVEDENKO. No one has any grounds for differentiating
spirit and matter ; spirit itself is very likely a collection of
material atoms. (Eagerly to TRIGORIN.) Ah, if only someone
would write a play and put it on the stage, showing the life we
schoolmasters lead ! It's a hard, hard life ! l
1 If Tchekhof makes Medvedenko a little ridiculous, he is sorry for him too.
He was always concerned about the miserable conditions in which village
THE SEAGULL ACT i
ARCADINA. Quite true ; but don't let us talk about plays
or atoms. What a glorious evening ! Do you hear ? The
peasants are singing. (Listening.) How beautiful !
PAULINE. That's on the farther shore. (A pause.)
ARCADINA (to TRIGORIN). Sit by me here. Ten or fifteen
years ago there was music and singing to be heard here by
the lake almost every evening. There were six big country
houses round the shore. It was all laughter, and noise, and the
firing of guns . . . and love-making, love-making without end.
The Jeune Premier, the idol of all six houses, was our friend here.
(Nodding at DORN.) You haven't met ? Dr Dorn, Eugene
Sergeitch. He is still charming, but in those days he was
irresistible. But my conscience is beginning to prick me.
Why did I hurt my poor boy's feelings ? I feel uneasy. (Call-
ing.) Constantine ! Dear boy ! Constantine !
MASHA. I'll go and look for him.
ARCADINA. Do, there's a dear.
MASHA (going L). A-oo ! Constantine Gavrilovitch ! A-oo !
NINA (coming from behind the stage). Evidently we're not
to go on. I can come out. How do you do ? (Kisses ARCA-
DINA and PAULINE.)
SORIN. Bravo, bravo.
ARCADINA. Bravo, bravo. We were all enchanted. With
schoolmasters worked. " Good teachers," he said to Gorky, " are the first
necessity for village life. Without a general education of the people the
Empire will fall to pieces like a house built of badly baked bricks. The school-
master ought to be an artist in love with his work, instead of which he is a
labourer who goes to it as he would go to exile in Siberia. Hungry, oppressed
and terrified, he ought to be the first man in the village." He dreamt, vaguely,
of building a sanatorium for sick ushers at Kutchuk-Koi in the Crimea : " a
big bright building, with big windows and high ceilings ; a library ; various
musical instruments ; a bee walk, an orchard, a kitchen garden ; with lectures
on agriculture, meteorology, etcetera" (Pamyati, 83, 84). Fortunately this
dreadful place was never built ; but the schoolmasters of the Empire are so
grateful for his representation of them in his plays and stories that they are
establishing a Teachers' Club in his honour, in connection with their Friendly
Society in Moscow (" Jubilee Sbomik," 6).
ACT i THE SEAGULL 39
such a face and figure, with such a lovely voice, it is wicked to
stay hidden in the country. I am sure that you have talent.
Mark my words ! You must go on the stage.
NINA. Oh, it is the dream of my life ! (Sighing.) But it
can never be realised.
ARCADINA. Who knows ? Let me introduce you : Trigorin,
NINA. Oh, I'm so glad. (Shyly.) I read all you write. . . .
ARCADINA (making NINA sit by her). Don't be shy, my dear.
He has a simple soul, although he's a celebrity. You see,
he's just as shy himself.
DORN. I suppose we can have the curtain up again now ?
It feels rather uncanny like this.
SHAMRAYEF (loud). Yakof, pull the curtain up, my lad, will
Curtain is raised.
NINA (to TRIGORIN). It's a strange play, isn't it ?
TRIGORIN. I didn't understand a word. However, I en-
joyed looking on. You acted with such sincerity. And the
scenery was lovely. (A pause.) No doubt there are a great
many fish in this lake ?
TRIGORIN. I love fishing. I know no greater pleasure than
to sit towards evening by the water and watch a float.
NINA. Surely, for one who has tasted the pleasure of
creation, all other pleasures cease to exist.
ARCADINA (laughing). You mustn't talk to him like that.
If people make him pretty speeches he runs away.
SHAMRAYEF. I remember one day in the opera-house at
Moscow, the famous Silva took the low C. As luck would have
it, there was one of our Synod choirmen * sitting in the gallery ;
imagine our astonishment when all of a sudden we heard a
voice from the gallery, " Bravo, Silva," a whole octave lower.
1 Synod chairman. A member of the choir founded in 1892 under the
direction of the Holy Synod to serve two of the principal churches in the
Kremlin, to sing in religious street processions in Moscow, etc.
40 THE SEAGULL ACT i
Like this. (In a deep bass voice :) " Bravo, Silva." The
audience was (Jumfounded. (A pause.)
DORN. There's an angel flying over the park.
NINA. I must be off. Good-bye.
ARCADINA. Where are you going ? Why so early ? We
won't let you go.
NINA. Papa's expecting me.
ARCADINA. It's too bad of him. (They kiss.) Well, we
can't help it. It's very, very sad to part with you.
NINA. If only you knew how unwilling I am to go.
ARCADINA. Somebody must see you home, darling.
NINA (alarmed). Oh no, no !
SORIN (imploringly). Don't go !
NINA. I must, Peter Nikolayevitch.
SORIN. Stay just for an hour, confound it all. It's too bad.
NINA (hesitating ; then crying). I can't. (Shakes hands and
ARCADINA. There's a really unfortunate girl ! They say
that her mother left her husband all her huge fortune when she
died, down to the last farthing, and now this child is left with
nothing, for he's made a will bequeathing it all to his second
wife. It's monstrous.
DORN. Yes, her papa's a pretty mean sort of a sneak, to
do him justice.
SORIN (rubbing his hands to warm them). We'd better be
going too ; it's getting damp. My legs are beginning to ache.
ARCADINA. They're like bits of wood, you can hardly walk
on them. Come along, ill-fated patriarch ! (Takes his arm.)
SHAMRAYEF (offering his arm to his wife). Madame ?
SORIN. There's that dog howling again. (To SHAMRAYEF.)
Please tell them to unchain that dog, Ilya Afanasyevitch.
SHAMRAYEF. Can't be done, Peter Nikolayevitch ; I'm
afraid of thieves breaking into the barn. I've got the millet
there. (To MEDVEDENKO, who walks beside him.) Yes, a
whole octave lower : " Bravo, Silva ! " And not a concert
singer, mind you, but an ordinary Synod choirman.
ACT i THE SEAGULL 41
MEDVEDENKO. And what salary does a Synod choirman get ?
[Exeunt Omnes, except DORN
DORN (alone). I don't know. Perhaps I don't understand
anything, or I'm going off my head, but the fact is I liked the
play. There was something in it. When the girl spoke of
her solitude, and then afterwards when the Devil's red eyes
appeared, my hands trembled with excitement. It was fresh
and nai'f. There he comes apparently. I want to say all the
nice things I can to him.
TREPLEF. They've all gone.
DORN. I'm here.
TREPLEF. Masha's looking for me all over the park. Repul-
sive female !
DORN. Constantine Gavrilovitch, I liked your play ex-
tremely. It was a curious kind of thing and I didn't hear the
end, but all the same it made a deep impression on me. You
are a man of talent, and you must go on.
TREPLEF squeezes his hand and embraces him eagerly.
DORN. What a nervous creature you are ! Tears in his
eyes ! What did I want to say ? You have chosen a subject
in the realm of abstract ideas. You were quite right ; every
artistic production ought to express a great thought. Nothing
is beautiful unless it is serious. How pale you are !
TREPLEF. So you think that I ought to go on ? 1
DORN. Yes. But represent only what is important and
eternal. You know that I have lived my life with variety
and discrimination ; I'm quite contented ; but if ever I felt
the elevation of spirit which comes to artists in the moment
of creation, I am sure that I should despise my material en-
velope and all that belongs to it and be carried away from
the earth aloft into the heights.
1 Tchekhof , in writing these lines, cannot but have recalled his own feelings
of gratitude when, still an unknown young writer, he received a letter of
encouragement from the great Grigorovitch. His letter in answer is the most
engagingly warm-hearted thing imaginable (" Letters," 32).
42 THE SEAGULL ACT i
TREPLEF. Excuse me, where is Nina Zaretchnaya ?
DORN. And then there's another thing. In every pro-
duction there must be a clear and well-defined idea. You must
know what your object is in writing ; otherwise, if you travel
this picturesque path without a well-defined aim, you will
go astray and your talent will be your ruin.
TREPLEF (impatiently). Where is Nina Zaretchnaya ?
DORN. She's gone home.
TREPLEF (in despair). What am I to do ? I want to see
her. I must see her. I shall drive after her.
DORN (to TREPLEF). Calm yourself, my friend.
TREPLEF. All the same I shall go after her. I must go
MASHA. Please go up to the house, Constantine Gavrilo-
vitch. Your mother's waiting for you. She's anxious about
TREPLEF. Tell her I've gone out. And please, all of you,
leave me in peace ! Leave me alone ! Don't follow me
DORN. Come, come, my dear boy. You mustn't talk like
that. ... It isn't right.
TREPLEF (with tears in his eyes). Good-bye, doctor. Thank
DORN (sighing). Ah, youth ! youth !
MASHA. When there is nothing else left to say, people say :
" Ah, youth ! youth ! " (Takes snuff.)
DORN (taking MASHA'S snuff-box and throwing it into the
bushes). A filthy habit ! (Pause). They seem to be having
music up at the house. We must go in.
MASHA. Stop a moment.
DORN. Eh ?
MASHA. I want to say something to you again. I want
to talk. (Agitated.) I don't care for my father, but my heart
goes out to you. I somehow feel, with all my soul, that you
are near to me. . . . Come, help me. Help me, or I shall
ACT i THE SEAGULL 43
commit some folly, I shall make havoc of my life. ... I can't
hold out any longer.
DORN. What is it ? How am I to help you ?
MASHA. I am in pain. No one knows my sufferings.
(Laying her head on his breast, softly.) I am in love with
DORN. What bundles of nerves they all are ! And what
a lot of love. . . . Oh, magic lake ! Oh, magic lake !
(Tenderly.) What can I do, my child ? What can I do ?
The croquet lawn. Far up at the back, on the right, the house
with big verandah. On the left the lake is visible, with the
reflection of the sun twinkling in the waters. Flower-beds.
Midday ; hot. At the side of the croquet lawn, in the shade
of an old lime-tree, sit ARCADINA, DORN and MASHA on a
bench. DORN has a book open on his knees.
ARCADINA (to MASHA). Come, get up. (They get up.) Let
us stand side by side. You are twenty-two and I am nearly
twice as much. Eugene Sergeitch, which of us looks the
DORN. You do of course.
ARCADINA. There ! And why ? Because I work, because
I feel, because I am always n the move. While you remain
sitting in one place ; you don't live. And I make it a rule,
never to look forward into the future. I never think about old
age or death. What will be will be.
MASHA. And I, I have a feeling as if I had been born ages
and ages ago. I drag my life, a dead weight, after me, like the
train of an endless dress. Often I have no desire to live.
(Sits.) Of course, this is all rubbish. One must shake oneself
and throw it all off.
DORN (singing softly). " Tell her, tell her, pretty flowers."
ARCADINA. Then again, I am always " correct," like an
Englishman. I keep myself up to the mark, as they say, and
am always dressed, and have my hair done comme il faut. I
should never dream of leaving the house, even to come into
the garden like this, in a neglige, or with my hair undone.
Never. The reason I am so well preserved is that I have never
been a dowdy, never let myself go as some do. ... (Walks
ACT ii THE SEAGULL 45
up and down the croquet lawn with arms akimbo.) There !
you see ? as light as a bird ; ready to act the part of a girl of
fifteen any day.
DORN. Well, I'm going on anyway. (Taking up his book.)
We'd got as far as the cornchandler and the rats.
ARCADINA. And the rats. Go on. (Sits.) No, give it to
me. I'll read. It's my turn. (Taking the book and looking
for the place.) And the rats. Here we are. (Reading.)
" Truly, it is just as dangerous for people of fashion to beguile
novelists to their houses as it would be for a cornchandler to
rear rats in his granary. And yet they are much sought after.
When a woman has chosen the writer that she wishes to take
captive, she lays siege to him by means of flattery and delicate
attentions. ..." That may be true in France, but we have
nothing of the sort in Russia ; we have no programme. As a
rule, before a Russian woman takes her writer captive she's
head over ears in love with him. No need to look far afield ;
take me and Trigorin, for instance.
Enter SORIN, leaning on a stick ; NINA beside him. MEDVEDENKO
wheels a chair behind them
SORIN (as if talking to a child). Eh ? so we're having a treat ?
We're happy for once, confound it all ! (To ARCADINA.)
Such fun ! Papa and stepmamma have gone to Tver, and we're
free for three whole days.
NINA (sitting by ARCADINA and embracing her). I am so
happy ! Now I belong to you.
SORIN (sitting in his chair). She's in looks to-day.
ARCADINA. Well dressed and interesting. That's a good
girl ! (Kisses her.) We mustn't praise you too much for fear
of bewitching you. 1 Where is Trigorin ?
NINA. Down at the bathing-place, fishing.
ARCADINA. I wonder he doesn't get sick of it ! (Prepares
to go on reading.)
NINA. What is the book ?
1 Bewitching you i.e. exercising the power of the Evil Eye on you, by
exciting our own envy.
46 THE SEAGULL ACT n
ARCADINA. Maupassant's " On the Water," my dear.
(Reads a few lines to Jierself.) The rest's dull and quite untrue.
(Shutting the book.) I am feeling anxious and perturbed.
Tell me, what is the matter with my son ? Why is he so
gloomy and morose ? He passes whole days together on the
lake and I hardly ever see him.
MASHA. He is troubled at heart. (To Nina; timidly.)
I wish you would recite something from his play.
NINA (shrugging her shoulders). Really ? It's so dull.
MASHA (with restrained enthusiasm). When fie reads any-
thing aloud, his eyes glow and his face turns pale. He has a
beautiful melancholy voice, and manners like a poet.
SORIN snores audibly.
ARCADINA, Peter !
SORIN. Eh ?
ARCADINA. Are you asleep ?
SORIN. Not I. (A pause.)
ARCADINA. It's so foolish of you not to undergo a treatment,
SORIN. I should be delighted, but Dorn won't let me.
DORN. A treatment at sixty !
SORIN. Even at sixty one wants to live.
DORN (testily). Eh ! Very well then, take Valerian drops.
ARCADINA. I think he ought to go and take the waters
DORN. All right. He can go if he likes . . . or he can stop
at home if he likes.
ARCADINA. How's one to understand you ?
DORN. There's nothing to understand. It's perfectly plain.
MEDVEDENKO. Peter Nikolayevitch ought to give up
SORIN. Rubbish !
DORN. No, it's not rubbish. Wine and tobacco rob us of
our individuality. After a cigar or a glass of vodka you are
ACT ii THE SEAGULL 47
no longer Peter Nikolayevitch but Peter Nikolayevitch plus
somebody else. Your ego evaporates, and you think of your-
self in the third person ; not as " me " but as " him."
SORIN (laughing). It's all very well for you to talk. You've
lived in your time ; but what about me ? I have spent
twenty-eight years in the law courts, but I haven't begun to
live yet, haven't had any experiences, confound it all, and
isn't it natural that I long to live at last ? You are sated and
indifferent and therefore you are disposed to philosophise ;
but I want to live, and that's why I drink sherry at dinner and
smoke cigars and all the rest of it. That's all.
DORN. One ought to be serious about life. But to take
medicine at sixty and lament that one did not have fun enough
when one was young, that, if you'll excuse me, is frivolous.
MASHA (rising). It must be lunch-time. (Walking lazily.)
My leg's gone to sleep. [Exit
DORN. She's going to get down a couple of glasses of vodka
SORIN. The poor thing gets no enjoyment out of life.
DORN. Rot, your Excellency.
SORIN. You talk like a man who has had his fill.
ARCADINA. Oh dear ! oh dear ! what can be more tedious
than this truly rural country tedium ! So hot ! so quiet ! No
one does anything ; everyone philosophises. * You're pleasant
company, my friends, and it's very nice to hear you talk, but
. . . Oh, to be sitting in one's hotel, studying one's part,
how very much nicer !
NINA (enthusiastically). Oh, indeed ! How well I can
understand you !
SORIN. Of course it's better in town. Sitting in one's
1 In a letter of 1889 (" Letters," 138) Tchekhof speaks of a comedy that he
began and put aside. " I wrote two acts and threw it up ; it turned out
tedious ; there is nothing so tedious as a tedious play." The rest of the letter,
written in summer, in the depths of the country, where his brother was ill,
when " neighbours come, day follows days, conversation follows conversa-
tion," recalls tin's scene enough to suggest that The Seagull may have been the
tedious comedy in question ; either that or Ivdnof.
48 THE SEAGULL ACT n
study, all visitors have to send their names up by the footman,
a telephone handy . . . cabs in the street and all the rest of
DOEN (singing). " Tell her, tell her, pretty flowers ! "
Enter SHAMRAYEF ; after him PAULINE
SHAMEAYEF. There they are. Good day to you. (Kisses
ARCADINA'S hand, then NINA'S.) (To ARCADINA.) Very glad
to see you in such good health. My wife tells me you were
thinking of driving into town with her to-day. Is that true ?
ARCADINA. Yes, we're going into town.
SHAMRAYEF. Hm ! That's all very well, but how do you
propose to get there, my dear madam ? We're carrying the
rye to-day, and all the labourers are busy. What horses are
you to have, I should like to know ?
ARCADINA. What horses ? How should I know what
SORIN. There are the carriage horses.
SHAMRAYEF (excited). The carriage horses ? And where
am I to get collars from ? Where am I to get collars ?
It really is extraordinary ! Incomprehensible ! My dear
madam, you must excuse me. I have the greatest respect
for your talents. I am ready to give ten years of my life for
you, but horses I cannot let you have.
ARCADINA. But if I have to go into town ? This is really
SHAMRAYEF. My dear lady ! You do not know what
ARCADINA (angry). It is the old story again ! If that is the
case I go back to Moscow to-day. Send to the village to hire
horses for me, or I shall go to the station on foot.
SHAMRAYEF (angry). In that case I resign my post ! You
must look for a new agent ! [Exit
ARCADINA. It is the same thing every summer ; every
summer I am insulted here. I will never set foot in this place
[Exit L., towards the bathing-place
ACT ii THE SEAGULL 49
A minute later she is seen going up to the house. TRIGORIN
follows her with fishing rods and pail.
SORIN (angry). This is effrontery ! This is beyond all
bounds ! I'll stand it no more, confound it all ! Let all the
horses be brought here at once !
NINA (to PAULINE). Refuse Madame Arcadina, the famous
actress ! Is not every lightest wish of hers, or even caprice,
of more importance than your farming arrangements ? It is
PAULINE (in despair). What can I do ? Imagine yourself
in my position. What can I do ?
SORIN (to NINA). Let us follow my sister. We will all
entreat her not to go away, eh ? (Looking in the direction
where SHAMRAYEF went out.) Hateful fellow ! Tyrant !
NINA (preventing him from rising). Sit down, sit down.
We will wheel you. (She and MEDVEDENKO wheel the chair.)
What an awful thing to have happened !
SORIN. Perfectly awful. But he shall not get out of it like
that. I shall give him a piece of my mind.
[Exeunt. DORN and PAULINE remain
DORN. How monotonous people are ! Of course the right
thing would have been to fire your husband right out and have
done with him, but the end of it will be that this old woman
Peter Sorin and his sister will apologise and ask him to forgive
them. You'll see.
PAULINE. He has sent the carriage horses to help carry the
rye. These misunderstandings happen day after day. If you
knew how agitating it all is for me. I shall be ill ; see, I am
all trembling. . . . His bad manners are more than I can
bear. (Entreating.) Eugene, my dearest, my darling, let me
leave him and come to you. Time is flying over us, we are no
longer young ; let us have done with concealment and false-
hood before our days are ended. (A pause.)
DORN. I am fifty-five. It is too late to change my way
PAULINE. - -I know why you refuse. It is because there are
50 THE SEAGULL ACT n
other women besides myself who are dear to you. You cannot
let them all come to you. I understand. Forgive me ; you
are tired of me.
NINA appears near the house, picking flowers.
DORN. No, no, I'm not tired of you.
PAUIJNE. I suffer agonies of jealousy. Of course you are
a doctor ; you cannot avoid women. I understand.
DORN (to NINA, who comes down}. How are they getting on ?
NINA. Madame Arcadina is crying and Monsieur Sorin
has got asthma.
DORN (rising). I must go and give them both some Valerian
NINA (giving him her flowers}. These are for you.
DORN. Merci bien. (Goes towards the house.}
PAULINE (following him}. What pretty flowers ! (Near the
house, in a low voice :} Give me those flowers ! Give me those
flowers ! (She tears them up and throws them aside.}
[Exeunt into the house
NINA (alone). How strange to see an eminent actress in
tears, and all about such a trifle ! And is it not wonderful that
a famous writer, the darling of the public, mentioned daily in
the papers, with his photograph in the shop windows, his books
translated into foreign languages, should spend his whole day
fishing and be delighted because he has caught two chub. 1
I imagined that famous people were proud and inaccessible,
that they despised the crowd, and by their fame, by the glamour
of their names, as it were, revenged themselves on the world
for giving birth and riches the first place. But it seems they
cry, fish, play cards, laugh and get angry like everyone else. . . .
Enter TREPLEF, hatless, with a gun and a dead seagull
TREPLEF (at the gate}. Are you alone ?
NINA. Yes. (TREPLEF lays the bird at her feet.}
NINA. What does that mean ?
1 Fishing with a float and looking for mushrooms were Tchekhof's own
favourite occupations when he was in the country.
ACT ii THE SEAGULL 51
TREPLEF. I have been brute enough to shoot this seagull.
I lay it at your feet.
NINA. What is the matter with you ? (She takes up the
gull and looks at it.)
TREPLEF (after a pause). I shall soon kill myself in the same
NINA. You are not yourself.
TREPLEF. No, not since you ceased to be yourself. You
have changed towards me ; you look coldly at me ; you are
not at ease when I am by.
NINA. You have grown nervous and irritable of late ; you
express yourself incomprehensibly in what seem to be symbols.
This seagull seems to be another symbol ; but, I am afraid I
don't understand. (Laying it on the seat.) I am too simple to
TREPLEF. It began the night of the idiotic fiasco of my play.
Women cannot forgive failure. I have burnt everything,
everything to the last scrap. If only you knew how unhappy
I am ! Your sudden indifference to me is terrible, incredible,
as if I woke one morning and behold, this lake had dried up or
run away into the earth. You said just now that you are too
simple to understand me. Oh, what is there to understand ?
My play was a failure ; you despise my inspiration ; you look
on me as commonplace and worthless, like hundreds of others.
. . . (Stamping.) How well I can understand it ! How well
I can understand it ! I feel as if there were a nail being driven
into my brain. The devil take it. The devil take my vanity
too, which sucks out my blood, sucks it out like a snake.
(Seeing TRIGORIN, who reads a notebook as he walks.) There
goes the man of real talent ; he walks like Hamlet ; with a
book too. (Mocking.) " Words, words, words ! " This sun
has not yet risen on you, yet you smile already, your
looks are melted in his rays. I will not stand in your
TRIGORIN (writing in his book). Takes snuff and drinks
52 THE SEAGULL ACT n
vodka. . . . Always dressed in black. Schoolmaster in love
NINA. Good-morning, Boris Alexeyevitch.
TRIGORIN. Good-morning. 1 It appears that owing to
some unexpected turn of events we are leaving to-day. You
and I are hardly likely to meet again. I am sorry. I do not
often come across young women, young interesting women ;
I have already forgotten how one feels at eighteen or nineteen
and I cannot imagine it very clearly ; so that the young women
in my stories and novels are generally untrue to life. How I
should like to be in your place, if only for an hour, so as to know
what you think and what manner of creature you are altogether.
NINA. And how I should like to be in your place !
TRIGORIN. Why ?
NINA. So as to know how it feels to be a gifted and famous
writer. What does fame feel like ? What sensation does it
produce in you ?
TRIGORIN. What sensation ? Evidently, none. I never
thought about it. (Reflecting.) One of two things ; either you
exaggerate my fame, or fame produces no sensation.
NINA. But if you read about yourself in the papers ?
TRIGORIN. When they praise me I like it ; when they abuse
me I feel low-spirited for a day or two.
NINA. What a world to live in ! How I envy you, if you
but knew it ! How different are the lots of different people !
Some can hardly drag on their tedious, insignificant existence,
they are all alike, all miserable ; others, like you for instance
you are one in a million are blessed with a brilliant, interesting
life, all full of meaning. . . . You are happy.
TRIGORIN. Am I ? (Shrugging his shoulders.) Hm ! . . .
You talk of fame and happiness, of some brilliant interesting
life ; but for me all these pretty words, if I may say so, are just
1 The actor who plays Trigorin would do well to imitate Tchekhof him-
self as his friends describe him : A sad, thoughtful face, a soft, intimate way
of talking, a childlike shyness ; shrinking from praise, gentle in all his
movements ; then, when the moment comes, a sort of exaltation.
ACT ii THE SEAGULL 53
like marmalade, which I never eat. You are very young and
NINA. What a delightful life is yours !
TRIGORIN. What is there so very fine about it ? (Looking
at his watch.) I must be off to my writing in a moment. You
must excuse me ; I can't stop. (Laughs.) You have trodden
on my favourite corn, 1 as they say, and you see, I begin to get
excited and angry at once. However, let us talk. We'll talk
about my delightful, brilliant life. . . . Come on ; where shall
we begin ? (Meditating.) You have heard of obsessions,
when a man is haunted day and night, say, by the idea of the
moon or something ? Well, I've got my moon. Day and night
I am obsessed by the same persistent thought ; I must write,
I must write, I must write. . . . No sooner have I finished
one story than I am somehow compelled to write another, then
a third, after the third a fourth. I write without stopping,
except to change horses like a postchaise. I have no choice.
What is there brilliant or delightful in that, I should like to
know ? It's a dog's life ! Here I am talking to you, excited
and delighted, yet never for one moment do I forget that there
is an unfinished story waiting for me indoors. I see a cloud
shaped like a grand piano. I think : I must mention some-
where in a story that a cloud went by, shaped like a grand
piano. I smell heliotrope. I say to myself : Sickly smell,
mourning shade, must be mentioned in describing a summer
evening. I lie in wait for each phrase, for each word that falls
from my lips or yours and hasten to lock all these words and
phrases away in my literary storeroom : they may come in
handy some day. When I finish a piece of work, I fly to the
theatre or go fishing, in the hope of resting, of forgetting myself,
but no, a new subject is already turning, like a heavy iron ball,
in my brain, some invisible force drags me to my table and I
must make haste to write and write. And so on for ever and
ever. I have no rest from myself ; I feel that I am devouring
1 Favourite corn. A piece of English humour strayed over to Russia,
probably in the pages of Jerome K. Jerome, who is much goAU over there.
54 THE SEAGULL ACT n
my own life, that for the honey which I give to unknown
mouths out in the void, I rob my choicest flowers of their pollen,
pluck the flowers themselves and trample on their roots. Surely
I must be mad ? Surely my friends and acquaintances do not
treat me as they would treat a sane man ? " What are you
writing at 1 now ? What are we going to have next ? " So the
same thing goes on over and over again, until I feel as if my
friends' interest, their praise and admiration, were all a decep-
tion ; they are deceiving me as one deceives a sick man, and
sometimes I'm afraid that at any moment they may steal on
me from behind and seize me and carry me off, like Poprisht-
chin 2 to a madhouse. In the old days, my young best days,
when I was a beginner, my work was a continual torture.
An unimportant writer, especially when things are going
against him, feels clumsy, awkward and superfluous ; his
nerves are strained and tormented ; he cannot keep from
hovering about people who have to do with art and literature,
unrecognised, unnoticed, afraid to look men frankly in the eye,
like a passionate gambler who has no money to play with.
The reader that I never saw presented himself to my imagina-
tion as something unfriendly and mistrustful. I was afraid
of the public ; it terrified me ; and when each new play of mine
was put on, I felt every time that the dark ones in the audience
were hostile and the fair ones coldly indifferent. How frightful
it was ! What agony I went through !
NINA. But surely inspiration and the process of creation
give you sublime and happy moments ?
TRIGORIN. Yes. It's a pleasant feeling writing ; . . . and
looking over proofs is pleasant too. But as soon as the thing
is published my heart sinks, and I see that it is a failure, a mis-
take, that I ought not to have written it at all ; then I am
1 Writing at ; popisyvat instead of pisdt ; one of their charming compound
verbs, half frequentative and half diminutive. It suggests that his writing
is a sort of game, something that serves to keep him out of mischief. The
critic Mikhailovsky used it, in early days, of Tchekhof's compositions
(" Karpof," 43).
2 Ptprishtchin. The hero of Gogol's " Diary of a Madman."
ACT ii THE SEAGULL 55
angry with myself, and feel horrible. . . . (Laughing). And
the public reads it and says : " How charming ! How clever !
. . . How charming, but not a patch on Tolstoy ! " or " It's
a delightful story, but not so good as Turgenef's ' Fathers and
Sons.' ' And so on, to my dying day, my writings will always
be clever and charming, clever and charming, nothing more.
And when I die, my friends, passing by my grave, will say :
" Here lies Trigorin. He was a charming writer, but not so
good as Turg6nef ! "
NINA. You must excuse me ; I refuse to understand you.
You are simply spoilt by success.
TRIGORIN. By what success ? I've never satisfied myself.
I do not care for myself as a writer. The worst of it is that I
live in a kind of bewilderment and often do not understand
what I write. I love water like this, trees, sky ; I have the
feeling for nature ; it wakes a passion in me, an irresistible
desire to write. But I am something more than a landscape-
painter ; I am a citizen as well ; I love my country, I love the
people ; I feel that if I am a writer I am bound to speak of the
people, of its sufferings, of its future, to speak of science, of the
rights of man, etcetera, etcetera ; and I speak about it all,
volubly, and am attacked angrily in return by everyone ; I
dart from side to side like a fox run down by the hounds ; I
see that life and science fly farther and farther ahead of me, and
I fall farther and farther behind, like the countryman running
after the train l ; and in the end I feel that the only thing I can
write of is the landscape, and in everything else I am untrue to
life, false to the very marrow of my bones.
NINA. You work too hard ; you have no time or wish to
realise your own importance. You may be dissatisfied with
yourself, but in the eyes of others you are great and wonderful.
If I were a writer like you I would sacrifice my whole life to
the million, but I would realise that its only happiness was to
raise itself up to me ; they should pull my chariot along.
1 In some story, one presumes.
56 THE SEAGULL ACT n
TRIGORIN. Chariot indeed ! . . . Am I an Agamemnon
then, eh ? (They both smile.)
NINA. For such happiness as to be a writer or an actress
I would endure the hatred of my nearest and dearest. I would
endure poverty and disillusionment. I would lodge in a
garret and live on black bread. I would suffer dissatisfaction
with myself, the consciousness of my own imperfections, but
in return I would demand glory . . . real, ringing glory. (Cover-
ing her face with her hands.) My head swims. Ouf !
ARCADINA (heard from the house). Boris Alexeyevitch !
TRIGORIN. I'm being called. To pack, no doubt. But I
don't want to go away. (Looking at the lake.) Isn't it
heavenly ? Just look at it !
NINA. You see that house and garden on the farther shore ?
NINA. They used to belong to my mother. I was born
there. I have spent the whole of my life by this lake and I
know every little island on it.
TRIGORIN. It's perfectly delicious here ! (Seeing the sea-
gull.) And what's this ?
NINA. A seagull. Constantine Gavrilovitch shot it.
TRIGORIN. It's a lovely bird. I don't want to go away at
all. Persuade Madame Arcadina to stay. (Writes in his
NINA. What are you writing ?
TRIGORIN. I was just making a note. 1 A subject occurred
to me. (Putting notebook away.) A subject for a short story.
A girl like yourself, say lives from her childhood on the
shores of a lake. She loves the lake like a seagull, and is happy
and free like a seagull. But a man comes along by chance and
1 Tchekhof himself had whole pocket-books full of subjects for stories
(" Pamyati," 170) ; but he discouraged the random use of notes as positively
harmful to an imaginative writer. " There is no need to write down com-
parisons, neat characterisations, or details of natural scenes : all this must
present itself of its own accord, when it is wanted. But a naked fact, a rare
game, a technical appellation, should be entered in a book ; otherwise it will
get scattered and lost." For the rest, he said, " what is important will stick ;
and the details you can always discover or invent " (ibid. 131).
ACT n THE SEAGULL 57
sees her and ruins her, like this seagull, just to amuse himself.
(A pause. ARCADINA appears at a window. )
ARCADINA. Where are you, Boris Alexeyevitch ?
TRIGORIN. Coming ! (Looks back at NINA as he goes. At
the window, to ARCADINA.) What is it ?
ARCADINA. We're staying on.
[Exit TRIGORIN into the house
NINA (coming down to the footlights. After a pause and
meditation). It's like a dream !
page 56, third line from bottom, for "game" read "name"
Dining-room in SORIN'S house. Doors right and left. Side-
board. Cupboard with medicaments. Table C. Trunks
and bandboxes ; preparations for departure. TRIGORIN
lunching, MASHA standing by the table.
MASHA. I tell you all this because you're a novelist. You
can make use of it, if you like. I tell you candidly, if he had
wounded himself seriously I should not have consented to live
another minute. And yet I'm a brave woman. I've made
up my mind ; I will tear this love out of my heart, I will tear
it out by the roots.
TRIGORIN. How are you going to do that ?
MASHA. I am marrying, marrying Medvedenko.
TRIGORIN. The schoolmaster ?
TRIGORIN. I don't see the necessity.
MASHA. What ? to love without hope, for years and years
to be waiting and waiting. . . . No. Once I am married,
there will be no question of love ; new cares will drown all
traces of the old life. And yet it's a wrench. . . . Shall we
have another go ?
TRIGORIN. Won't it be rather a lot ?
MASHA. Nonsense. (Pours out a glass of vodka for each.}
Don't look at me like that. More women drink than you think.
Some drink openly like I do ; most of them drink secretly.
Yes, it's always vodka or brandy. (They clink glasses.} Here's
luck. You're a simple-minded soul ; I am sorry you're going.
TRIGORIN. I don't want to go myself.
MASHA. Ask her to stop on.
ACT in THE SEAGULL 59
TRIGORIN. No, she won't stop now. Her son has been
behaving extremely tactlessly. First he tried to shoot himself,
and now I'm told he wants to challenge me to a duel. And
why ? He sulks and sneers and preaches new forms. . . .
Well, there's room for all of us, both new and old ; why should
we jostle one another ?
MASIIA. He's jealous too. However, it's no affair of mine.
(A pause. YAKOF crosses R. to L., with a portmanteau. Enter
NINA, and stops by the window. ) My schoolmaster's not particu-
larly clever, but he's a good fellow, poor devil, and devoted to
me. I'm sorry for him. I'm sorry for his old mother too. Well,
I wish you the best of everything. Think no evil of us. (Shakes
him warmly by the hand.} Thank you for all your friendliness.
Send me your books, and mind and put your autograph in them.
Only don't write : " To my friend " So and So " from the
author," but just : " To MASHA, 22, of no occupation, 1 born
into this world for no apparent purpose." Good-bye. [Exit
NINA (holding out her clenched hand towards TRIGORIN.) Odd
or even ?
NINA (sighing). " No." I have only one pea in my hand.
The question was, whether I was to become an actress or not.
If only someone would advise me !
TRIGORIN. It's a question one can't advise on. (A pause.)
NINA. We are parting to-day and very likely we shall
never meet again. Please accept this little medallion as a
keepsake. I have had your initials engraved on it . . . and on
the other side the name of your book, " Days and Nights."
TRIGORIN. How graceful ! (Kissing the medallion.) What
a charming present !
NINA. Think of me sometimes.
TRIGORIN. I will indeed. I will think of you as you were
that sunny day, do you remember ? a week ago, when you wore
1 Literally : " To Mary, who does not remember her parentage " ; a
formula of police protocols.
60 THE SEAGULL ACT in
a cotton frock 1 . . . and we talked . . . and there was a seagull
lying on the seat.
NINA (meditatively). A seagull, yes. (A pause.) We can't
talk any more ; there's somebody coming. . . . Give me two
minutes before you go, I entreat you. . . . [Exit L.
At the same moment enter ARCADINA, R., SORIN in swallowtail
coat, with the star of an order ; then YAKOF, busy with luggage
ARCADINA (to SORIN). Stay at home, you old man. You
oughtn't to go gadding about with your rheumatism. (To
TRIGORIN.) Who was it just went out ? Nina ?
ARCADINA. Pardon! We interrupted you. (Sitting.) I
think I've packed everything. I'm worn out.
TRIGORIN (reading the inscription on the medallion). " * Days
and Nights,' page 121, lines 11 and 12."
YAKOF (clearing the table). Am I to pack the fishing rods
too, sir ?
TRIGORIN. Yes, I shall want them again. And you can
give the books away.
YAKOF. Very good, sir.
TRIGORIN (to himself).' 1 Page 121, lines 11 and 12." What
can those lines contain ? (To ARCADINA.) Have you got my
books anywhere in the house ?
ARCADINA. Yes, in Peter's study ; in the corner cupboard.
TRIGORIN." Page 121." [Exit
ARCADINA. You'd really better stop at home, Peter.
SORIN. I shall feel dreadfully dull without you when you're
ARCADINA. And will you be any the better for running into
SORIN. I don't suppose I shall, but all the same. . . .
(Laughing.) There's the laying the foundation-stone of the
new Council-house and all the rest of it. ... I must shake
off this stickleback life if it's only for an hour or two ; I've
1 Literally : " bright-coloured frock."
ACT in THE SEAGULL 61
been lying too long on the shelf like an old cigarette-holder.
I've ordered my cart at one ; we'll start together.
ARCADINA (after a pause}. Well, be happy here ; don't be
bored ; don't catch cold. Keep an eye on my boy. Take care
of him. Give him good advice. (A pause.) I shall go away
without having found out why Constantine tried to shoot
himself. I expect the chief reason was jealousy ; and the
sooner I take Trigorin away the better.
SORIN. Well, now, how shall I put it ? . . . there were other
reasons too. It's very natural ; a clever young man, living in
the depths of the country, with no money, no position, no
future. He has no occupation. He is ashamed and afraid of
his indolence. I love him dearly and he is fond of me, but still,
confound it all, he feels as if he were in the way here, only a
parasite, a hanger-on. It's very natural, a man's vanity . . .
ARCADINA. He's a great trial. (Meditating.) He might
go into a Government office, perhaps. . . .
SORIN (whistling ; then hesitatingly). I fancy the best thing
would be if you were to . . .if you were to let him have a little
money. In the first place he ought to be dressed like a human
being and all the rest of it. He's been wearing the same jacket
these three years ; he hasn't got an overcoat at all. . . .
(Laughing.) Then the lad ought to see life a bit. . . . Go
abroad and all that. ... It don't cost much.
ARCADINA. Still. . . . Well, I might manage the clothes,
but as for going abroad. . . . No, I can't manage the clothes
either just at present. (Resolutely.) I haven't any money.
(SORIN laughs.) I haven't.
SORIN (whistling). Well, well ! Don't be angry, my dear.
I believe you. . . . You're a large-hearted, admirable woman.
ARCADINA (crying). I haven't any money.
SORIN. If I had any myself, of course I'd let him have it,
but I have nothing, not a penny piece. (Laughing.) Sham-
rayef collars all my pension and spends it on the farm, the
cattle and the bees, and no one ever sees it again. The bees
die, the cows die, I can never have any horses. . . .
62 THE SEAGULL ACT in
ARCADINA. Well, I have got some money ; but remember
please, I'm an artiste ; my wardrobe alone has simply ruined me.
SORIN. You're a dear good thing ... I respect you . . .
I ... But I'm feeling queer again. (Staggers.) My head's
going round. (Holding on to the table.) I feel faint and all the
rest of it.
ARCADINA (frightened). Peter ! (Trying to support him.)
Petrusha, my darling! (Shouting:) Help! help! (Enter
TREPLEF, with bandage on head, and MEDVEDENKO.) He's
SORIN. All right, all right ! (Smiles and drinks some water.)
It's gone and all the rest of it.
TREPLEF. Don't be afraid, mother, there's no danger.
Uncle Peter often gets like that nowadays. (To SORIN.)
You'd better lie down, uncle.
SORIN. Yes, I will for a bit. But I'll go into town all the
same. I'll lie down first ; of course, of course.
[Goes R., leaning on stick
MEDVEDENKO (giving him an arm). There's a riddle : He
walks on four legs in the morning, on two at noon, on three in
the evening. . . .
SORIN (laughing). Quite so. And on his back at night.
Don't you trouble, I can manage. . . .
MEDVEDENKO. Nonsense ! come along !
[Exeunt MEDVEDENKO and SORIN, R.
ARCADINA. He quite frightened me.
TREPLEF. It's bad for his health living in the country.
He's miserable. Now if, in a sudden burst of generosity, you
could lend him a couple of hundred pounds, he would be able
to spend the whole year in town.
ARCADINA. I haven't any money. I'm an actress, not a
banker. (A pause.)
TREPLEF. Please change my bandage, mother. You do
it so well.
ARCADINA (getting iodoform and a drawerful of bandages from
the medicine cupboard). The doctor's late.
ACT in THE SEAGULL 63
TREPLEF. It's twelve and he promised to be here by ten.
ARCADINA. Sit down. (Taking off bandage.) You look as
if you had a turban on. A man asked the servants yesterday
what nationality you were. It's almost healed up. There's
hardly anything left there. (Kissing his head.) You promise
not to play at chik-chik again while I'm away ? l
TREPLEF. I promise, mother. That was in a moment of
mad despair when I had lost all self-control. It won't happen
again. (Kissing her hand.) You have the hands of an angel.
I remember a long time ago, when you were still on the Imperial
stage I was quite little then there was a fight in the court-
yard of the house we lived in ; a washerwoman who lodged
there got awfully knocked about. You remember ? She was
picked up senseless. . . . You were always going in to see
her, taking her medicine and bathing her children in the wash-
tub. Don't you remember ?
ARCADINA. No. (Putting on a new bandage.)
TREPLEF. There were two ballet-girls lodging in the same
place. . . . They used to come in for coffee. . .
ARCADINA. I remember that.
TREPLEF. They were very pious. (A pause.) These last
few days I have loved you just as tenderly and trustfully as
when I was a child. I have nobody left now but you. But
why, oh why do you submit to this man's influence ?
ARCADINA. You don't understand him, Constantine. He
has the noblest nature in the world. . . .
TREPLEF. Yet when he was told that I meant to challenge
him to fight, his noble nature did not prevent him from playing
the coward. He is going away. It's an ignominious flight !
ARCADINA. What rubbish ! It was I who asked him to go.
TREPLEF. The noblest nature in the world ! Here arc you
and I almost quarrelling about him, and where is he ? In the
garden or the drawing-room laughing at us, improving Nina's
mind, and trying to persuade her that he's a genius.
ARCADINA. It seems to give you pleasure to try and hurt my
1 Chik-chik : a playful onumatopoca for the click of the pistol trigger.
64 THE SEAGULL ACT in
feelings. I respect Trigorin and I must ask you not to abuse
him to my face.
TREPLEF. And / don't respect him. You want me to believe
him a genius too ; but you must excuse me, I can't tell lies ;
his writings make me sick.
ARCADINA. This is mere envy. Conceited people with no
talent have no resource but to jeer at really talented people.
It relieves their feelings, no doubt !
TREPLEF (ironically). Really talented people ! (Angry.)
I am more talented than all of you put together if it comes to
that ! (Tearing off his bandage.) You apostles of the common-
place have taken the front seats in all the arts for yourselves
and call nothing but what you do yourselves legitimate and real ;
you persecute and stifle all the rest. I don't believe in any
of you ; I don't believe in you and I don't believe in
ARCADINA. Decadent !
TREPLEF. Go back to your beloved theatre and act your
pitiful stupid plays !
ARCADINA. I never acted in such plays. Leave me ! You
cannot even write a miserable vaudeville if you try ! Kiev
artisan ! Parasite !
TREPLEF. Skinflint !
ARCADINA. Tatterdemalion ! (TREPLEF sits down and cries
quietly.) You insignificant nobody ! (Walking up and
down agitatedly.) Don't cry. Don't cry, I say. (Crying.)
Please don't cry. (Kissing his forehead, cheeks and head.)
My darling child, forgive me. . . . Forgive your wicked
mother ! Forgive your unhappy mother !
TREPLEF (embracing her). If only you knew ! I have lost
everything. She doesn't love me and I cannot write any
more ... all my hopes are lost.
ARCADINA. Don't lose heart. It will be all right in the end.
He is going away ; she will love you again. (Wiping away his
tears.) Stop crying. We are friends once more.
TREPLEF (kissing her hands). Yes, mother.
ACT in THE SEAGULL 65
ARCADINA (tenderly). Be friends with him too. You mustn't
have a duel. You won't have one ?
TREPLEF. Very well. But you mustn't let me meet him
any more, mother. It hurts me ; it is too much for me.
(Enter TRIGORIN.) There ! I will go away. (Hastily puts the
medicaments away in the cupboard.) The doctor shall bandage
me when he comes.
TRIGORIN (looking for the place in a book). Page 121. Lines
11 and 12. Ha ! (Reading:) " If ever my life can be of use
to you, come and take it."
[TREPLEF picks up his bandage and goes
ARCADINA (looking at the time). The horses will soon be
TRIGORIN (to himself). " If ever my life can be of use to you,
come and take it."
ARCADINA. You've got your things all packed, I hope ?
TRIGORIN (impatiently). Yes, yes. (Reflectively.) Why do
I hear the sound of anguish in this cry of a pure spirit ? Why
does my heart sink so painfully ? "If ever my life can be of
use to you, come and take it." (To ARCADINA.) Let us stay
another day. (She shakes her head.) Let us stay.
ARCADINA. Dear friend, I know what makes you want to
stay. You should have some self-control. You've lost your
senses a little ; come back to reason.
TRIGORIN. And do you too come back to reason ; be
thoughtful and considerate, I beseech you ; look at all this like
a real friend. (Pressing her hand.) You are capable of a
sacrifice. Be kind and set me free !
ARCADINA (in deep agitation). Are you so much in
TRIGORIN. Something beckons me towards her. Perhaps
this is the very thing that I really need. . . .
ARCADINA. The, love of a provincial girl ? Oh, how little
you know yourself.
TRIGORIN. People sometimes sleep as they walk ; and even
while I talk to you, it is as if I were asleep and saw her in my
66 THE SEAGULL ACT in
dreams. . . . Wonderful sweet visions possess me. . . . Set
me free !
ARCADINA (trembling). No, no. I am an ordinary woman ;
I cannot be talked to so. Don't torment me, Boris. I am
TBIGORIN. If you will try you can be an extraordinary
woman. A sweet poetical young love, wafting me away into
the world of reveries, there is nothing on earth can give happi-
ness like that. Such a love I have never yet experienced.
As a young man I had no time ; I was wearing out editors'
thresholds, struggling with poverty 1 . . . and now at last it
stands before me beckoning, this love. . . . Should I not be
a fool to fly from it ?
ARCADINA (angrily). You have gone out of your mind.
TRIGORIN. Who cares ?
ARCADINA. You are all banded together to-day to torment
TRIGORIN (taking his head between his hands). She doesn't
understand. She refuses to understand.
ARCADINA. Am I so old and ugly already that men can say
what they like about other women to me ? (Embracing and
kissing him.) Oh, you are mad, mad ! My darling, wonderful
Boris ! Last page of my life ! (Kneeling.) My joy, my
pride, my bliss. (Embracing his knees). If you desert me even
for an hour, I cannot survive it, I shall go out of my mind, my
splendid incomparable friend, my king.
TRIGORIN. Someone might come in. (Helping her to rise.)
ARCADINA. Who cares ? I am not ashamed of my love
for you. (Kissing his hands.) You are rash and wild, my
treasure ; what you want to do is madness ; you shall not,
I will not let you. (Laughing.) You are mine ! mine ! This
forehead is mine, these eyes are mine, this lovely silky hair is
1 So Tchekhof himself complained that success had come to him too late
in life. He had spent his strength to no purpose in the struggle for existence
(" Pamyati," 162). He used to support all his family by writing for comic
papers when he was still a student at the University.
ACT ra THE SEAGULL 67
mine. . . . You are all mine ! You are so clever, so gifted,
the best of all the writers of the day, you are the only hope of
Russia. . . . You have such a gift of sincerity, simplicity,
freshness and bracing humour. . . . In a single stroke you
give the essence of a character or a landscape ; your people
are all alive. Oh, no one can read you without delight ! Do
you think this is mere incense and flattery ? Come, look me
in the eyes, right in the eyes. Do I look like a liar ? You see,
there is nobody but me who knows your true value ; nobody ;
I am the only person who tells you the truth, my precious
darling. . . . You'll come ? Say you will. You won't
desert me ?
TRIGORIN. I have no will of my own. I never had a will
of my own. Weak-kneed, flabby and submissive ; everything
that women hate. Take me, carry me away, but never let me
stir an inch from your side.
ARCADINA (to herself). He's mine ! (Carelessly.) Well,
stay if you like. I'll go to-day and you follow a week later.
After all, why should you hurry ?
TRIGORIN. No. We'll go together.
ARCADINA. As you please. We'll go together if you like.
(A pause. TRIGORIN writes in, his notebook.) What's that ?
TRIGORIN. I heard a good expression this morning : the
corn was " shuckled " by the wind. 1 It may come in some
time. (Stretching.) So we are off ? Railway carriages again,
stations, refreshment rooms, mutton chops and conversa-
tions. . . .
SHAMRAYEF. I have the melancholy honour of announcing
that the carriage is round. It's time to start for the station,
dear lady ; the train comes in at two-five. Now don't forget
to inquire, if you'll be so good, Irina Nikolayevna, what has
become of Suzdaltsef. Is he alive ? Is he well ? Many's the
drink we had together. He was inimitable in TIic Lyons
1 " Shuckled." The translator has palmed off a handy substitute, instead of
rendering Trigorin'sown trouvaille, which seems to mean " the maids' spinney."
68 THE SEAGULL ACT ra
Mail. He was playing at that tune at Elizavetgrad with
Izmailov the tragedian, another remarkable man. . . . No
hurry, my dear lady, we've still got another five minutes to
spare. They played the conspirators once in a melodrama,
and when they were suddenly found out, the line was : " We are
caught like rats in a trap " ; but Izmailov said, " like trats in a
rap " ! instead. (Laughing.) " Trats in a rap " !
While he is speaking YAKOF is busy with the luggage; a house-
maid brings ARCADINA her hat, mantle, parasol and gloves ;
everyone helps ARCADINA to dress. A man-cook looks in
L. and after a little while enters irresolutely. Enter PAULINE,
then SORIN and MEDVEDENKO.
PAULINE (offering a basket). Here are some plums for the
journey. They're nice and sweet. I thought you might
ARCADINA. How kind of you, Pauline Andreyevna.
PAULINE. Good-bye, my dear. If there was ever anything
amiss, forgive it. (Crying.)
ARCADINA (embracing her). Everything has been perfect,
perfect ! Only you mustn't cry.
PAULINE. Our sands are running out.
ARCADINA. It can't be helped.
SORIN (with cape-coat, hat, stick ; entering L. and crossing room).
Time to be off, Irene ; you mustn't be late, confound it all.
I'm going to get in.
MEDVEDENKO. I shall go to the station on foot to see you
off. I'll be there in no time. [Exit
ARCADINA. Good-bye, everyone. If we're alive and well we
shall meet again in the summer. (Housemaid, man-cook and
YAKOF kiss her hand.) Don't forget me. (Giving the cook a
rouble.) There's a rouble to divide among you. 1
COOK. Our humblest thanks, lady. A good journey to you !
We are very content with you !
YAKOF. Heaven send you happy times !
1 A rouble : worth two shillings and a penny.
ACT in THE SEAGULL 69
SHAMRAYEF. Make us happy with a little letter. (To
TRIGORIN.) Good-bye, Boris Alexeyevitch !
ARCADINA. Where's Constantine ? Tell him that I am off.
We must say good-bye. (To YAKOF.) Think no evil of us.
I've given the cook a rouble. It's for the three of you.
[Exeunt all, R. Stage empty. Noise of farewells and departure
behind the scene. Housemaid comes back for the basket of
plums, and exit with it.
TRIGORIN (coming back). I've left my stick behind. I think
she's out there on the verandah. (Goes L. and meets NINA,
entering.) Ah, it's you. We're off.
NINA. I felt that we should meet again. (Agitatedly.) Boris
Alexeyevitch, I have made up my mind beyond recall ; the
die is cast ; I am going on the stage. To-morrow I shall be
gone from here ; I am leaving my father ; I am giving up
everything and beginning a new life. I am going where you
are going ... to Moscow. We shall meet there.
TRIGORIN (looking round). Stop at the " Slavyansky
Bazaar." Let me know at once. Molchanovska, Grokholsky's
house . . . I'm in a hurry. . . . (A pause.)
NINA. One minute more.
TRIGORIN (murmuring). How beautiful you are ! . . . What
joy to think that we shall meet again so soon. (She lays her
head on his bosom.) I shall see these lovely eyes once more,
this inexpressibly tender, charming smile, this sweet face, this
expression of angelic purity. . . . My darling ! (A long kiss.)
Two years elapse between the third and fourth Acts.
One of the drawing-rooms in SORIN'S house, converted by CONSTAN-
TINE into a study. Doors R. and L. A glass door in the
back on to the verandah. Besides usual draruing-room
furniture, a writing-table stands up R., a Turkish divan by
the door L., bookcase, books on window-sills and chairs.
Evening. Twilight. One lamp alight, with shade. The
wind howls in the trees and chimneys. Watchman beats
a board outside as he passes.
Enter MEDVEDENKO and MASHA
MASHA (catting). Constantino Gavrilitch ! Constantine
Gavrilitch ! (Looking about.) There's no one here. The old
man keeps asking every minute " Where's Constantine ?
Where's Constantine ? " He can't live without him.
MEDVEDENKO. He's afraid of solitude. (Listening.) What
a fearful storm ! It's been like this for two whole days.
MASHA (turning up the lamp). There are waves on the lake,
great big ones.
MEDVEDENKO. How dark it is in the garden ! They ought
to have that stage in the garden pulled down. It stands all
bare and ugly like a skeleton, and the curtain flaps in the wind.
As I came by yesterday evening I thought I heard someone
MASHA. Did you ? (A pause.)
MEDVEDENKO. Let's get home, Masha.
MASHA (shaking her head). I shall stay the night here.
MEDVEDENKO (imploringly). Corne home, Masha. Our baby
must be starving.
MASHA. Rubbish. Matrona will feed it. (A pause.)
MEDVEDENKO. Poor little beggar ; three nights away from
ACT iv THE SEAGULL 71
MASHA. What a bore you are ! In the old days you used
at any rate to philosophise ; but now it's always baby, baby,
home, home. Can't you find anything new to say ?
MEDVEDENKO. Let's go, Masha.
MASHA. Go yourself.
MEDVEDENKO. Your father won't let me have a horse.
MASHA. Yes, he will. You ask him, he'll let you have one
MEDVEDENKO. Well, I'll try. Then you'll come to-
MASHA (taking snuff). All right. Can't you leave me alone ?
(Enter TREPLEF, carrying pillows and blankets, and PAULINE with
sheets. They put them on the Turkish divan and TREPLEF
goes and sits at the writing-table.} What's this about, mother ?
PAULINE Monsieur Sorin wants his bed made in Con-
MASHA. I'll help. (Spreading sheets.}
PAULINE (sighing). Old folk are just like children. (Goes
to writing-table, leans on her elbow and looks over CONSTANTINE'S
manuscript. A pause.)
MEDVEDENKO. Well, I'll be oh*. Good-bye, Masha. (Kiss-
ing his wife's hand.) Good-bye, mother. (Offering to kiss
PAULINE (sourly). There, go along, do !
MEDVEDENKO. Good-bye, Constantine Gavrilitch. (CoN-
STANTINE shakes hands silently.) [Exit MEDVEDENKO
PAULINE (looking at the manuscript). Nobody ever imagined
that you would become a real writer, Constantine. But now,
thank heaven, the magazines send you money for your stories.
(Stroking his hair.) And you've grown so handsome. Dear,
good Constantine, try and be kinder to my Masha.
MASHA (laying the bed). Do leave him alone, mother.
PAULINE (to CONSTANTINE). She's such a dear. (A pause.)
All that a woman asks, Constantine, is to be looked at kindly.
I know it myself. . . . (CONSTANTINE rises and leaves the
72 THE SEAGULL ACT iv
MASHA. Now you've made him angry. Why couldn't you
leave him alone ?
PAULINE. I'm so sorry for you, Masha.
MASHA. No need, thank you.
PAULINE. My heart aches again for you. I see it all ; I
understand it all.
MASHA. Bah ! Hopeless love only exists in novels. Rub-
bish ! One only has to keep oneself in hand, and not to sit
waiting and waiting for what can never come. If love strikes
root in one's heart, one must turn it out. Well, they've
promised to transfer Simeon to another district. Once we get
there I shall forget everything ; I will tear it out by the roots.
A melancholy waltz is played two rooms away.
PAULINE. There's Constantine playing. That means he's
MASHA (silently dancing a few turns to the waltz). The chief
thing is not to have him always before one's eyes. If only they
will transfer my Simeon. Once we're there I shall forget him
in a month. This is all fiddlesticks.
Enter DORN and MEDVEDENKO, L., wheeling SORIN in a chair
MEDVEDENKO. I have six mouths in the house to feed now.
And flour's four and sixpence a hundredweight.
DORN. You won't get much change out of that.
MEDVEDENKO. Ah ! It's all very well for you to laugh.
You're rolling in money.
DORN. Rolling in money ? After thirty years of practice,
my dear fellow, thirty years of anxious practice, during which
I could never call my soul my own day or night, all that I
managed to scrape together was two hundred pounds, and that
I spent when I went abroad just lately. I haven't a farthing.
MASHA (to MEDVEDENKO). So you've not gone yet ?
MEDVEDENKO (apologetically). How can I, if they won't
let me have a horse ?
MASHA (murmuring, bitterly). I wish my eyes might never
light on you again !
SORIN'S chair is placed on the L. side of the stage. PAULINE,
ACT iv THE SEAGULL 73
MASHA and DORN sit by it. MEDVEDENKO, downcast, goes
DORN. Why, what a lot of changes you've been making.
You've turned the drawing-room into a study.
MASHA. It's more convenient for Constantine Gavrilitch
to work here. When he feels inclined he can go out into the
garden to think.
The watchman beats his board outside.
SORIN. Where's Irene ?
DORN. Gone to the station to meet Trigorin. She'll be
SORIN. If you thought it necessary to send for my sister
to come, I must be dangerously ill. (A pause.} It's too bad,
here am I dangerously ill and nobody will give me any medi-
DORN. Well, what medicine do you want ? Valerian
drops ? Soda ? Quinine ?
SORIN. Oh ! more philosophy, I suppose. It's simply the
devil ! (Nodding at the divan.) Is that laid for me ?
PAULINE. Yes, it's for you, Peter Nikolayevitch.
SORIN. Many thanks.
DORN (singing). "The moon swims by in the clouds of
SORIN. I shall give Constantine a subject for a story, It's
to be called, " The Man who wanted to," " Vhomme qui a
voulu." When I was a young man I wanted to be a writer,
and I didn't become one ; I wanted to be a good speaker and
was a vile one. (Mimicking himself.) " And, er, so to speak,
er, as I was saying. ..." And my perorations that went on
and on, till one was bathed in perspiration. ... I wanted to
marry and remained a bachelor ; I wanted to live and die in
town, and here I am ending my days in the country and all the
rest of it.
DORN. You wanted to be made an Actual State Councillor, 1
and you were.
1 Actual State Councillor. See the note to Act I., p. 31.
74 THE SEAGULL ACT iv
SORIN (laughing). I never tried for that. It came of its
DORN. To express dissatisfaction with life at sixty-two,
you must confess, is ungenerous.
SORIN. What a pigheaded fellow you are ! Don't you
understand ? I want to live !
DORN. That's frivolous. By the laws of nature every life
must come to an end.
SORIN. You talk as a man who has had his fill. You're
sated and therefore indifferent to life ; it's all the same to you.
But even you will be afraid of death.
DORN. The fear of death is an animal fear. One ought to
repress it. The only people who are consciously afraid of death
are those who believe in eternal life ; they are frightened by the
knowledge of their sins. But you, in the first place, you're
an unbeliever, and in the second, what sins can you have on
your mind ? You've served twenty-five years in the Law Courts,
SORIN (laughing). Twenty-eight.
Enter TREPLEF, and sits on a footstool at SORIN'S feet. MASHA
cannot keep her eyes off him.
DORN. We are preventing Constantine Gavrilovitch from
TREPLEF. No. It's all right. (A pause.)
MEDVEDENKO. Allow me to ask you, doctor, what town
pleased you most abroad ?
TREPLEF. Why Genoa ?
DORN. The crowd in the streets is so charming in Genoa.
If you go out from your hotel in the evening you find the whole
street overflowing with people. You go about aimlessly in the
crowd, zigzagging to and fro, you live with its life, you fuse
your individuality with its, and you begin to believe that a
Universal Spirit is really possible, like that one that Nina
Zaretchnaya once acted in your play. By the by, where is
Nina Zaretchnaya ? How's she getting on ?
ACT iv THE SEAGULL 75
TREPLEF. She's quite well, I imagine.
DORN. I was told she was living some curious sort of life.
What was it ?
TREPLEF. It's a long story, doctor.
DORN. Well, make it a short one. (A pause.)
TREPLEF. She ran away from home and went to Trigorin.
That you know.
DORN. Yes, I know.
TREPLEF. She had a baby. The baby died. Trigorin got
tired of her and went back to his old ties, as one might have
expected. Besides, he never gave up his old ties, but, like the
backboneless creature he is, managed to carry on with both
at the same time. As far as I can make out from what I've
heard, Nina's private life has been disastrous.
DORN. And on the stage ?
TREPLEF. Still worse, I should say. She came out first at
a summer theatre near Moscow, and then went off to the pro-
vinces. I kept her in sight for some time and followed her
wherever she went. She was always trying to do big parts,
but acted crudely and inartistically, mouthing her words and
making awkward gestures. There were moments when she
showed some talent in screaming and dying, but they were
DORN. Still, you think she has some gift for it ?
TREPLEF. It was hard to make out. I should think so,
certainly. I saw her, but she refused to see me, and the
servants wouldn't let me into her rooms. I understood her
mood and did not insist on an interview. (A pause.) What
else is there to tell you ? Afterwards, when I got back home
I used to get letters from her, nice, friendly, interesting letters ;
she didn't complain, but I could see that she was profoundly
unhappy ; in every line one felt her strained and tortured
nerves. Her imagination was a little disordered. She signed
herself " Seagull." In " Rusalka " l the miller says he is a crow ;
1 Rusalka. Pushkin's poem ; more likely to be known to the reader as
Dargomyzhsky's opera. Rusalha is Russian for a nixie.
76 THE SEAGULL ACT iv
so she said in her letters that she was a seagull. And now she's
DORN. How do you mean, here ?
TREPLEF. Down in the town, at an inn. She's been in
rooms there five or six days. I drove in in the hope of seeing
her. Marya Ilyinitchna J (indicating MASHA) went too,
but she won't see anyone. Medvedenko declares he saw her
crossing the fields yesterday afternoon, a mile and a half from
MEDVEDENKO. Yes, I saw her. She was going the other way,
towards the town. I took off my hat and asked why she
didn't come and stay with us. She said she would.
TREPLEF. She won't. (A pause.) Her father and step-
mother refuse to know her. They've put watchmen every-
where to prevent her even getting near the grounds. (TREPLEF
and DORN go to the writing-table.) How easy it is to be a
philosopher on paper, doctor, and how hard it is in real life !
SORIN. What a charming girl she was !
DORN. Eh, what ?
SORIN. I say what a charming girl she was. His Excellency
Councillor Sorin was in love with her for a time.
DORN. Old Don Juan !
SHAMRAYEF'S laugh is heard without.
PAULINE. It sounds as if they were back from the station.
TREPLEF. Yes, I can hear mother.
Enter ARCADINA and TRIGORIN, SHAMRAYEF following
SHAMRAYEF (as he enters). We all grow old and battered
under the influence of the elements, but you, dear lady, are as
young as ever, with your lovely frocks, such life, such grace . . .
ARCADINA. You want to bewitch me with praise again,
you tiresome man !
TRIGORIN (to SORIN). How do you do, Peter Nikolayevitch ?
What do you mean by being ill ? It's very wrong of you.
(Seeing MASHA, delighted.) Marya Ilyinitchna !
MASHA. Not forgotten me ? (Shaking hands.)
1 Ilyinitchna, daughter of Ilyi, or Elias, Shamrayef's Christian name.
ACT iv THE SEAGULL 77
TRIGORIN. Married ?
MASHA. Long ago.
TRIGORIN. Happy ? (Salutes DORN and MEDVEDENKO, then
goes irresolutely towards TREPLEF.) Irina Nikolayevna 1 said
that you had overlooked the past and forgiven me.
TREPLEF gives him his hand.
ARCADINA (to her son). Trigorin has brought the magazine
with your new story.
TREPLEF (taking the magazine ; to TRIGORIN). Many thanks.
You're very kind. (They both sit.)
TRIGORIN. Your admirers send you their respects. . . .
People in Moscow and St Petersburg are interested in you ; I
am always being asked about you. They want to know what
you look like, how old you are, dark or fair. For some reason
or other they all imagine that you're no longer young. And
nobody knows your real name, of course, as you write under
a nom de plume. You're a mystery, like the Man in the Iron
TREPLEF. Have you come for long ?
TRIGORIN. No, I mean to go to Moscow to-morrow. I can't
stop. I'm trying to get a novel finished, and then I've promised
to write something for an annual. In fact, it's the old story.
While they are talking ARCADINA and PAULINE bring a card-
table to the middle of the room and open it ; SIIAMRAYEF
lights the candles and brings chairs. Things for a game of
loto are brought from a cupboard.
TRIGORIN. Your weather welcomes me here in the most
inhospitable manner. It's a cruel wind. To-morrow morning,
if it goes down, I shall go and fish in the lake. And I want to
look round the garden and see the place where your play was
acted, you remember ? I've got a subject ready for writing ;
I want to refresh my memory as to the scene of action.
MASHA (to SIIAMRAYEF). Papa, will you let Simeon have a
horse ? He's got to go home.
SHAMRAYEF (ironical). A horse ! Go home ! (Severely.)
1 I.e. Madame Angelina.
THE SEAGULL ACT
Didn't you see for yourself, the horses have just been to the
station ? They can't go out again.
MASHA. But they're not the only ones. . . . (Seeing that
Jier father won't answer, she ma/ees a gesture of breaking off.)
You're all more trouble than you're worth !
MEDVEDENKO. I'll do it on foot, Masha. It's all right. . . .
PAULINE (sighing). On foot, in weather like this. . . .
(Seating herself at the card-table.) Now come along, everyone.
MEDVEDENKO. It's not more than four miles. . . . Good-
bye (kissing his wife's hand). Good-bye, mother. (PAULINE,
his mother-in-law, unwillingly gives him her hand to kiss.)
I wouldn't have troubled anyone, only the baby . . . (He bows
to the company.) Good-bye.
[Exit, with a guilty air
SHAMRAYEF. He'll get there right enough. He's not a
PAULINE (rapping on the table). Now then, come along.
Don't let's waste time ; they'll be calling us to supper very soon.
SHAMRAYEF, MASHA and DORN sit at the card-table.
ARCADINA (to TRIGORIN). When the long autumn evenings
begin we always play loto here. Just look ; the old loto-set
that we used to play with with mother, when we were children.
Won't you have a game with us till supper-time ? (She and
TRIGORIN sit at the card-table.) It's a tedious game, but it's all
right when you're used to it. (She deals three cards to each.)
TREPLEF (looking through the magazine). He's read his own
story and hasn't even cut mine. (Puts magazine on writing-table,
tJien goes to the door L. ; as he passes his mother he kisses her
on the head.)
ARCADINA. Aren't you coming, Constantine ?
TREPLEF. No, thanks ; I don't feel like it. I'm going for a
turn round the house. [Exit
ARCADINA. The stake's twopence. Put in for me, doctor.
DORN. Very good, mum.
MASHA. Everybody put in ? I begin. . . . Twenty-two !
ARCADINA. Yes .
ACT iv THE SEAGULL 79
MASHA. Three !
DORN. Here you are.
MASHA. Have you marked three ? Eight! Eighty -one! Ten!
SHAMRAYEF. Not so quick.
ARCADINA. Such a reception I had at Kharkof ! Saints in
heaven ! My head still goes round with it.
MASHA. Thirty-four !
A melancholy waltz behind the scenes.
ARCADINA. The students gave me quite an ovation. Three
baskets of flowers, two bouquets and look at that ! (Taking
a brooch from her bosom and throwing it mi the table.}
SHAMRAYEF. Why, that's no end of a ...
MASHA. Fifty !
DORN. Five O.
ARCADINA. I was wearing a charming frock . . . my frocks
are one of my strong points.
PAULINE (listening to the music). Do you hear Constantine ?
He's unhappy, poor lamb.
SHAMRAYEF. They abuse him a good deal in the papers.
MASHA. Seventy-seven !
ARCADINA. Who cares for the papers !
TRIGORIN. He has no luck. He can't somehow get into his
natural stride. There's always something queer and vague about
it, almost like delirium at times. Never a single living character.
MASHA. Eleven !
ARCADINA (looking round at SORIN). Are you bored, Peter ?
(A pause.) He's asleep.
DORN. The Actual State Councillor is asleep.
MASHA. Seven ! Ninety !
TRIGORIN. If I lived in a country house like this, by a lake,
do you think I would ever write another line ? I would con-
quer the passion and spend my whole time fishing.
MASHA. Twenty-eight !
TRIGORIN. To catch a roach or a perch . . . what bliss ! 1
1 Cf. " Letters," p. 82. " TocatchaswdaA I . . . It is nobler and sweeter than
80 THE SEAGULL ACT iv
DORN. For my part, I believe in Constantine. He'll do
something. He'll do something ! He thinks in pictures, his
stories are bright and full of colour ; I feel them very deeply.
It's a pity only that he has no definite purpose before his eyes.
He produces an impression and there he stops ; producing
impressions won't take you very far. Are you glad you've
a son who is a writer, Irina Nikolayevna ?
ARCADINA. Fancy, I've never read a line of his. I never
MASHA. Twenty-six !
Enter TREPLEF quietly ; he goes to his table
SHAMRAYEF (to TRIGORIN). We've still got that thing of
yours, Boris Alexeyevitch.
TRIGORIN. What thing ?
SHAMRAYEF. Constantine Gavrilitch shot a seagull one day,
and you asked me to have it stuffed for you.
TRIGORIN. Did I ? (Meditating.) I don't remember.
MASHA. Sixty-six ! One !
TREPLEF (opening the window and listening). How dark it is !
I wonder why I feel so uneasy. . . .
ARCADINA. Shut the window, dear ; it makes a draught.
(TREPLEF shuts it.)
MASHA. Eighty-eight !
TRIGORIN. Ha, ha ! I've won.
ARCADINA (gaily). Well done ! Well done !
ARCADINA. Trigorin is always lucky wherever he goes.
(Rising.) And now let's go and get something to eat. The
eminent novelist has had no dinner to-day. We'll go on after
supper. Constantine, put your writing away and come to
TREPLEF. I don't want anything thanks, mother. I'm not
ARCADINA. As you please. (Waking SORIN.) Supper-time,
Peter. (Taking SHAMRAYEF'S arm.) I will tell you all about
my reception at Kharkof .
ACT iv THE SEAGULL 81
PAULINE puts out the candles on tlie card-table ; she and DORN
wheel SORIN'S chair. Exeunt omnes, L. TREPLEF remains
alone at his writing-table.
TREPI.EF (preparing to write ; reads through what he has
already written). I have talked so much about new formulae,
and now I feel that I'm slipping back little by little into the old
commonplaces. (Reading.) " The placard on the hoarding
informed the public . . ." " Her pale face framed in masses of
dark hair . . ." " Informed the public," " Framed in masses "
. . . How cheap ! * (Scratching out.) I'll begin with the
hero being woken by the sound of the rain, and throw the rest
overboard. The description of the moonlight night is tedious
and artificial. Trigorin has worked himself out a method, it's
easy for him. The neck of a broken bottle glimmering on the
mill-dam and the black shadow of the water-wheel, and there's
your moonlight night complete ; but here am I with my tremu-
lous rays and the twinkling stars and the distant sound of
a piano fainting on the perfumed air. . . . It's frightful !
(A pause.) Yes, I'm coming more and more to the conclusion
that it doesn't matter whether the formulae are new or old ;
a man's got to write without thinking of form at all, just because
it flows naturally out of his soul. (Someone knocks at the window
by the table.) What's that ? (Looking out.) I don't see any-
thing. (Opens the glass door and looks into the garden.) Some-
one ran down the steps. (Calling.) Who's there ? (Goes out;
walks quickly along the verandah outside, and returns a moment
later with NINA ZARETCHNAYA.) Nina ! Nina ! (NiNA lays
her head on his bosom and sobs restrainedly.) (With emotion.)
Nina ! Nina ! Is it you ? is it you ? I had a sort of pre-
sentiment ; all day my heart has been in anguish. (Takes
off her hat and cloak. 2 ) Oh, my dearest, my loveliest !
1 Constantino criticises himself almost in the same words as Tchekhof once
criticised a young writer, Zhirkevitch, who had sent him one of his
stories in manuscript. " It is only ladies who nowadays write, ' the
placard informed the public,' ' her face framed in hair'" (" Letters," p. 208).
2 Cloak : strictly speaking, her " talma" ; the word is English too ; a sort
of big cape named after the tragedian.
82 THE SEAGULL ACT iv
She has come at last ! We mustn't cry, we mustn't
NINA. Is there anyone here ?
TREPLEF. No one.
NINA. Lock the door ; they may come in.
TREPLEF. No one will come in.
NINA. I know that Irina Nikolayevna is here. Lock the
TREPLEF (locks the door R. and goes to the door L.). There's no
lock on this one. I'll put a chair against it. (Puts an arm-
chair against the door.) Don't be afraid, no one will come in.
NINA (looking him hard in the face). Let me look at you.
(Looking round the room.) How warm and cosy. . . . This
used to be the drawing-room. Am I much changed ?
TREPLEF. Yes. You're thinner and your eyes are bigger.
Nina, how strange it is to see you at last ! Why would you not
let me in when I visited you ? Why have you not come before ?
I know you have been here nearly a week. I've been to the
inn several times every day and stood under your window like
NINA. I was afraid you must hate me. I dream every night
that you look at me and do not recognise me. If only you
knew ! Every day since I came I've been walking up here by
the lake. I've been so often near the house but did not dare
to come in. Let's sit down. (They sit.) Let's sit here and
talk and talk. How pleasant it is here, how warm and com-
fortable. . . . Do you hear the wind ? There's a passage in
Turgenef : " Blessed is he who sits beneath a roof on such
a night, in his own comfortable corner." I am a seagull. No,
that's wrong. (Rubs her forehead.) What was I saying ?
Yes . . . Turgenef. ..." And the Lord help all homeless
wanderers." . . . I'm all right. (Sobbing.)
TREPLEF. Nina ! you're crying again. . . . Nina !
NINA. I'm all right. I feel the better for it . . .1 haven't
cried for two years. Yesterday evening I came into the garden
to see if our stage was still standing. It's still there. I cried
ACT iv THE SEAGULL 83
for the first time in two years, and felt relieved, and easier in
my mind. See, I'm not crying any more. (Taking his hand.}
So you've become a writer. You're a writer and I'm an actress.
We're both caught up in the vortex. Once I lived so happily,
with a child's happiness ; I would wake of a morning and sing
with glee ; I loved you and dreamed of fame ; and now ?
Early to-morrow morning I must travel to Yeletz, 1 third class,
with peasants, and at Yeletz I shall have to put up with the
attentions of the educated shopkeepers. . . . How brutal
life is !
TREPLEF. Why Yeletz ?
NINA. I've accepted an engagement for the whole winter.
I must start to-morrow.
TREPLEF. Nina, I cursed you and hated you at first ; I
tore up your letters and your photographs ; but all the time I
knew that my heart was bound to you for ever. Try as I
may, I cannot cease loving you, Nina. Ever since I lost you
and began to get my stories printed, my life has been intolerable.
How I have suffered ! . . . My youth was snatched from me,
as it were, and I feel as if I had lived for ninety years. I call
to you ; I kiss the ground where you have passed ; wherever
I look I see your face with that caressing smile which shone
upon me in the best years of my life. . . .
NINA (wildly}. Why does he say that ? Why does he say
TREPLEF. I am alone in the world, unwarmed by any
affection ; it chills me like a dungeon, and whatever I write is
hollow, dull and gloomy. Stay here, Nina, I beseech you, or
let me come away with you ! (NiNA puts on her hat and cloak
quickly.) Nina, why are you doing that ? For God's sake,
Nina . . . (lie watches her putting on her things.) (A pause.)
NINA. My trap is at the garden gate. Don't come and see
me out. I'll manage all right. (Crying.) Give me some water.
1 Yeletz. A little old town in Central Russia, now growing brisk and
commercial, with " residential suburbs." It is like being booked for a season
at Norwich or Shrewsbury.
84 THE SEAGULL ACT iv
TREPLEF (giving Jier water). Where are you going to ?
NINA. Back to the town. (A pause.} Is Irina Nikolayevna
TREPLEF. Yes. . . . Uncle Peter was taken ill on Thursday ;
we wired for her to come.
NINA. Why do you say you kissed the ground where I had
walked ? You ought to kill me. (Leaning against the table.)
Oh, I am so tired ! If I could only rest ... if I could only
rest. (Raising her head.) I am a seagull . . . no, that's wrong.
I am an actress. Yes, yes. (Hearing ARCADINA and TRIGORIN
laughing, she listens, then runs to the door R. and looks through
the keyhole.) So he's here too ! . . . ( Coming back to TREPLEF.)
Yes, yes. . . . I'm all right. . . . He didn't believe in the
stage ; he always laughed at my ambitions ; little by little I
came not to believe in it either ; I lost heart. . . . And on
the top of that the anxieties of love, jealousy, perpetual fear for
the child ... I became trivial and commonplace ; I acted
without meaning ... I did not know what to do with my
hands, or how to stand on the stage, I had no control over my
voice. You can't imagine how you feel when you know that
you are acting atrociously. I am a seagull. No, that's wrong.
. . . Do you remember, you shot a seagull ? "A man comes
along by chance and sees her, and, just to amuse himself, ruins
her. ... A subject for a short story." . . . No, that's not
it. ... (Rubbing her forehead.) What was I talking about ? . . .
Ah, about acting. I'm not like that now . . . I'm a real actress
now. When I act I rejoice, I delight in it ; I am intoxicated and
feel that I am splendid. Since I got here I have been walking
all the time and thinking, thinking and feeling how my inner
strength grows day by day . . . and now I see at last, Constan-
tine, that in our sort of work, whether we are actors or writers,
the chief thing is not fame or glory, not what I dreamed of,
but the gift of patience. One must bear one's cross and have
faith. My faith makes me suffer less, and when I think of my
vocation I am no longer afraid of life.
TREPLEF (sadly). You have found your road, you know
ACT iv THE SEAGULL 85
where you are going ; but I am still adrift in a welter of images
and dreams, and cannot tell what use it all is to anyone. I have
no faith and I do not know what my vocation is.
NINA (listening). 'Sh. . . . I'm going. Good-bye. When
I am a great actress, come and see me act. You promise ?
And now . . . (Shaking his hand.) It's late. I can hardly
stand up, I'm so tired and hungry. . . .
TREPLEF. Stay here. I'll get you some supper.
NINA. No, no. Don't see me out ; I can find my way.
The trap is quite near. ... So she brought him here with her ?
Well, well, it's all one. When you see Trigorin don't tell
him I've been. ... I love him ; yes, I love him more than
ever. ..." A subject for a short story." ... I love him,
love him passionately, desperately. How pleasant it was in
the old days, Constantine ! You remember ? How clear and
warm, how joyful and how pure our life was ! And our feelings
they were like the sweetest, daintiest flowers. . . . You
remember ? (Reciting.) " Men and lions, eagles and par-
tridges, antlered deer, geese, spiders, the silent fishes dwelling
in the water, starfish and tiny creatures invisible to the eye
these and every form of life, ay, every form of life, have ended
their melancholy round and become extinct. Thousands of
centuries have passed since this earth bore any living being on
its bosom. All in vain does yon pale moon light her lamp.
No longer do the cranes wake and cry in the meadows ; the
hum of the cockchafers is silent in the linden groves. . . ."
She embraces TREPLEF impulsively and runs out by the glass door.
TREPLEF (after a pause). I hope nobody will meet her in the
garden and tell mother. Mother might be annoyed. . . .
For two minutes he silently tears up all his manuscripts and
throws them tinder the table, then unlocks the door R., and exit.
DORN (trying to open the door R.). Funny. It seems to be
locked. . . . (Entering and putting back the arm-chair in its
place.) H'm, obstacle race.
Enter ARCADINA and PAULINE ; behind them YAKOF, with
and MASUA ; then SHAMRAYEF and TRIGORIN
86 THE SEAGULL ACT iv
ARCADINA. Put the claret and beer here on the table for
Boris Alexeyevitch. We'll drink while we play. Now come
along and sit down, all of you.
PAULINE (to YAKOF). And bring tea at once. (Lighting the
candles and sitting at the card-table.)
SHAMRAYEF (taking TRIGORIN to the cupboard). There's the
thing I was talking of. ... (Gets a stuffed seagull out.) You
asked to have it done.
TRIGORIN (looking at the seagull). I don't remember. (After
thinking.) No, I don't remember.
Report of a pistol behind the scenes, R. Everyone starts.
ARCADINA (alarmed). What's that ?
DORN. It's all right. I expect something's busted in my
travelling medicine-chest. Don't be alarmed. [Exit R., and
returns a moment later.) As I expected. My ether bottle's
burst. (Singing :) " Once more, once more before thee, love."
ARCADINA (sitting at the table). Good heavens, I was quite
frightened. It reminded me of that time when . . . (Covering
her face with her hands.) I felt quite faint. . . .
DORN (taking up TREPLEF'S magazine and turning over the
pages ; to TRIGORIN). There was an article in this paper a
month or two ago ... a letter from America, and I wanted
to ask you, among other things . . . (Puts his arm round
TRIGORIN'S waist and brings him to the footlights.) . . . I'm
very much interested in the question . . . (In a lower
tone.) Get Irina Nikolayevna away from here. The fact
is, Constantine has shot himself. . . .
The Cherry Orchard was Tchekhof's last
work. It was produced by the Moscow
Artistic Theatre in 1904, when the author
was already a dying man. The first
performance was the occasion of a public
scene of homage to his successful genius.
The cherry orchard that inspired him was
his own at Melikhovo.
THE CHERRY ORCHARD
MADAME RANEVSKY, 1 a landowner
ANYA, her daughter, aged seventeen
BARBARA, her adopted daughter, aged twenty-seven
LEONIDAS GAYEF, brother of Madame Rdnevsky
LOPAKHIN, a merchant
PETER TROPHI'MOF, a student
SiME6NOF-PisHTCHiK, a landowner
CHARLOTTE, a governess
EPHIKH6DOF, a clerk
DuNYAsHA, a housemaid
FIRS,* man-servant, aged eighty-seven
YAsHA, a young man-servant
Station master, Post Office Official, Guests, Servants, etc.
THE ACTION TAKES PLACE ON MADAME RANEVSKY'S PROPERTY
1 The part of Madame Ranevsky was played in Moscow by Tchekhof 's wife,
8 Firs. Pronounce like a Scotchman saying " fierce."
A room which is still called the nursery. One door leads to
ANYA'S room. Dawn, the sun will soon rise. It is already
May, the cherry-trees are in blossom, but it is cold in the
garden and there is a morning frost. The windows are
Enter DUNYASHA with a candle, and LOPAKHIN with a book in
LOPAKHIN. So the train has come in, thank heaven.
What is the time ?
DUNYASHA. Nearly two. (Putting the candle out.} It is
LOPAKHIN. How late is the train ? A couple of hours at
least. (Yawning and stretching.} What do you think of me ?
A fine fool I have made of myself. I came on purpose to meet
them at the station and then I went and fell asleep, fell asleep
as I sat in my chair. What a nuisance it is ! You might have
woke me up anyway.
DUNYASHA. I thought that you had gono. (She listens.}
That sounds like them driving up.
LOPAKHIN (listening). No ; they have got to get the luggage
out and all that. (A pause.} Madame Ranevsky has been
five years abroad. I wonder what she has become like. What
a splendid creature she is ! So easy and simple in her ways.
I remember when I was a youngster of fifteen my old father
(he used to keep the shop here in the village then) struck me
in the face with his fist and set my nose bleeding. We had
come for some reason or other, I forget what, into the court-
yard, and he had been drinking. Madame Ranevsky, I re-
90 THE CHERRY ORCHARD ACT i
member it like yesterday, still a young girl, and oh, so slender,
brought me to the wash-hand stand, here, in this very room,
in the nursery. " Don't cry, little peasant," she said, " it'll
mend by your wedding." 1 (A pause.) " Little peasant !" . . .
My father, it is true, was a peasant, and here am I in a white
waistcoat and brown boots ; a silk purse out of a sow's ear, 2
as you might say ; just turned rich, with heaps of money, but
when you come to look at it, still a peasant of the peasants.
(Turning over the pages of the book.) Here's this book that
I was reading and didn't understand a word of ; I just sat
reading and fell asleep.
DUNYASHA. The dogs never slept all night, they knew that
their master and mistress were coming.
LOPAKHIN. What's the matter with you, Dunyasha ? You're
DUNYASHA. My hands are trembling, I feel quite faint.
LOPAKHIN. You are too refined, Dunyasha, that's what it is.
You dress yourself like a young lady, and look at your hair !
You ought not to do it ; you ought to remember your
Enter EPHIKHODOF with a nosegay. He is dressed in a short
jacket and brightly polished boots which squeak noisily. As
he comes in he drops the nosegay.
EPHIKHODOF (picking it up). The gardener has sent this ;
he says it is to go in the dining-room. (Handing it to
LOPAKHIN. And bring me some quass.
DUNYASHA. Yes, sir. [Exit DUNYASHA
EPHIKHODOF. There's a frost this morning, three degrees,
and the cherry-trees all in blossom. I can't say I think much
of our climate ; (sighing) that is impossible. Our climate
is not adapted to contribute ; and I should like to add, with
1 //'// mend by your wedding : a proverbial phrase.
1 Sow's ear. A proverb; literally, "With a swine's snout into Manchet
Row" i.e. the part of the market where the bakers of fine rolls have their
ACT i THE CHERRY ORCHARD 91
your permission, that only two days ago I bought myself a new
pair of boots, and I venture to assure you they do squeak
beyond all bearing. What am I to grease them with ?
LOPAKHIN. Get out ; I'm tired of you.
EPHIKHODOF. Every day some misfortune happens to me ;
but do I grumble ? No ; I am used to it ; I can afford to smile.
(Enter DUNYASHA, and hands a glass of quass to LOPAKHIN.)
I must be going. (He knocks against a chair, which jails to the
ground.} There you are ! (In a voice of triumph.} You
see, if I may venture on the expression, the sort of incidents
inter alia. It really is astonishing ! [Exit EPHIKHODOF
DUNYASHA. To tell you the truth, Yermolai Alexeyitch,
Ephikhodof has made me a proposal.
LOPAKHIN. Hmph !
DUNYASHA. I hardly know what to do. He is such a well-
behaved young man, only so often when he talks one doesn't
know what he means. It is all so nice and full of good feeling
but you can't make out what it means. I fancy I am rather
fond of him. He adores me passionately. He is a most un-
fortunate man ; every day something seems to happen to him.
They call him " Twenty-two misfortunes," * that's his nick-
LOPAKHIN (listening). There, surely that is them coming !
DUNYASHA. They're coming ! Oh, what is the matter with
me ? I am all turning cold.
LOPAKHIN. Yes, there they are, and no mistake. Let's
go and meet them. Will she know me again, I wonder ? It is
five years since we met.
DUNYASHA. I am going to faint ! . . . I am going to
Two carriages are heard driving up to the house. LOPAKHIN
and DUNYASHA exeunt quickly. The stage remains
empty. A hubbub begins in the neighbouring rooms. FIRS
1 Twenty-two misfortunes. The twenty-two seems to have no specific
association. It is a sort of round number. Cf. " Letters," 52 : " What are
your twenty-two hesitations ? "
92 THE CHERRY ORCHARD ACT i
walks hastily across the stage, leaning on a walking-stick.
He lias been to meet them at the station. He is wearing an
old-fashioned livery and a tall hat ; he mumbles something to
himself but not a word is audible. The noise behind the
scenes grows louder and louder. A voice says : " Let's
go this way." Enter MADAME RANEVSKY, ANYA, CHAR-
LOTTE, leading a little dog on a chain, all dressed in travelling
dresses ; BARBARA in great-coat, with a kerchief over her
head, GAYEF, SIMEONOF-PISHTCHIK, LOPAKHIN, DUN-
YASHA, carrying parcel and umbrella, servants with luggage,
all cross the stage.
ANYA. Come through this way. Do you remember what
room this is, mamma ?
MADAME RANEVSKY (joyfully, through her tears). The
BARBARA. How cold it is. My hands are simply frozen.
(To MADAME RANEVSKY.) Your two rooms, the white room
and the violet room, are just the same as they were,
MADAME RANEVSKY. My nursery, my dear, beautiful
nursery ! This is where I used to sleep when I was a little
girl. (Crying.) I am like a little girl still. (Kissing GAYEF
and BARBARA and then GAYEF again.) Barbara has not
altered a bit, she is just like a nun, and I knew Dunyasha at
once. (Kissing DUNYASHA.)
GAYEF. Your train was two hours late. What do you
think of that ? There's punctuality for you !
CHARLOTTE (to SIMEONOF-PISHTCHIK). My little dog eats
PISHTCHIK (astonished). You don't say so ! well I never !
[Exeunt all but ANYA and DUNYASHA
DUNYASHA. At last you've come !
She takes off ANYA'S overcoat and hat.
ANYA. I have not slept for four nights on the journey. I
am frozen to death.
DUNYASHA. It was Lent when you went away. There
ACT i THE CHERRY ORCHARD 93
was snow on the ground, it was freezing ; but now ! Oh, my
dear ! (Laughing and kissing her.) How I have waited for
you, my joy, my light ! Oh, I must tell you something at
once, I cannot wait another minute.
ANYA (without interest). What, again ?
DUNYASHA. Ephikhodof, the clerk, proposed to me in
ANYA. Same old story. . . . (Putting her hair straight.)
All my hairpins have dropped out. (She is very tired, staggering
DUNYASHA. I hardly know what to think of it. He loves
me ! oh, how he loves me !
ANYA (looking into her bedroom, affectionately). My room,
my windows, just as if I had never gone away ! I am at home
again ! When I wake up in the morning I shall run out into
the garden. . . . Oh, if only I could get to sleep ! I have not
slept the whole journey from Paris, I was so nervous and
DUNYASHA. Monsieur Trophimof arrived the day before
ANYA (joyfully). Peter ?
DUNYASHA. He is sleeping outside in the bath-house ; he
is living there. He was afraid he might be in the way. (Look-
ing at her watch.) I'd like to go and wake him, only Mamzelle
Barbara told me not to. " Mind you don't wake him,'* she
Enter BARBARA with bunch of keys hanging from her girdle
BARBARA. Dunyasha, go and get some coffee, quick.
Mamma wants some coffee.
DUNYASHA. In a minute ! [Ex-it DUNYASHA
BARBARA. Well, thank heaven, you have come. Here
you are at home again. (Caressing her.} My little darling is
back ! My pretty one is back !
ANYA. What I've had to go through !
BARBARA. I can believe you.
ANYA. I left here in Holy Week. How cold it was !
94 THE CHERRY ORCHARD ACT I
Charlotte would talk the whole way and keep doing conjuring
tricks. What on earth made you tie Charlotte round my
BARBARA. Well, you couldn't travel alone, my pet. At
ANYA. When we got to Paris, it was so cold ! there was snow
on the ground. I can't talk French a bit. Mamma was on the
fifth floor of a big house. When I arrived there were a lot
of Frenchmen with her, and ladies, and an old Catholic priest
with a book, and it was very uncomfortable and full of tobacco
smoke. I suddenly felt so sorry for mamma, oh, so sorry ! I
took her head in my arms and squeezed it and could not let
it go, and then mamma kept kissing me and crying.
BARBARA (crying). Don't go on, don't go on !
ANYA. She's sold her villa near Mentone already. She's
nothing left, absolutely nothing ; and I hadn't a farthing
either. We only just managed to get home. And mamma won't
understand ! We get out at a station to have some dinner,
and she asks for all the most expensive things and gives the
waiters a florin each for a tip ; and Charlotte does the same.
And Yasha wanted his portion too. It was too awful ! Yasha
is mamma's new man-servant. We have brought him back
BARBARA. I've seen the rascal.
ANYA. Come, tell me all about everything ! Has the
interest on the mortgage been paid ?
BARBARA. How could it be ?
ANYA. Oh dear ! Oh dear !
BARBARA. The property will be sold in August.
ANYA. Oh dear ! Oh dear !
LOPAKHIN (looking in at the door and mooing like a cow).
Moo-oo ! [He goes away again
BARBARA (laughing through her tears, and shaking her fist at
the door). Oh, I should like to give him one !
ANYA (embracing BARBARA softly). Barbara, has he pro-
posed to you ? [BARBARA shakes her head
ACT i THE CHERRY ORCHARD 95
ANYA. And yet I am sure he loves you. Why don't you
come to an understanding ? What are you waiting for ?
BARBARA. I don't think anything will come of it. He has
so much to do ; he can't be bothered with me ; he hardly
takes any notice. Confound the man, I can't bear to see him !
Everyone talks about our marriage ; everyone congratulates
me ; but, as a matter of fact, there is nothing in it ; it's all a
dream. (Changing her tone.) You've got on a brooch like a
ANYA (sadly). Mamma bought it me. (Going into her room,
talking gaily, like a child.) When I was in Paris, I went up in a
BARBARA. How glad I am you are back, my little pet !
my pretty one ! (DUNYASHA has already returned with a coffee-
pot and begins to prepare the coffee.) (Standing by the door.) I
trudge about all day looking after things, and I think and
think. What are we to do ? If only we could marry you to
some rich man it would be a load off my mind. I would go
into a retreat, and then to Kief, to Moscow ; I would tramp
about from one holy place to another, always tramping and
tramping. What bliss !
ANYA. The birds are singing in the garden. 1 What time
is it now ?
BARBARA. It must be past two. It is time to go to bed, my
darling. (Following ANYA into her room.) What bliss !
Enter YASHA with a shawl and a travelling bag
YASHA (crossing the stage, delicately). May I pass this way,
DUNYASHA. One would hardly know you, Yasha. How
you've changed abroad !
YASHA. Ahem ! and who may you be ?
DUNYASHA. When you left here I was a little thing like that
(indicating with her hand). My name is Dunyasha, Theodore
Kozoye"dof's daughter. Don't you remember me ?
1 The anti-realists bring it up against Stanislavsky that the birds really did
sing at the Artistic Theatre.
96 THE CHERRY ORCHARD ACT i
YASHA. Ahem ! You little cucumber !
He looks round cautiously, then embraces her. She screams and
drops a saucer. Exit YASHA hastily.
BARBARA (in the doorway, crossly). What's all this ?
DUNYASHA (crying). I've broken a saucer.
BARBARA. Well, it brings luck.
Enter ANYA from her room
ANYA. We must tell mamma that Peter's here.
BARBARA. I've told them not to wake him.
ANYA (thoughtfully). It's just six years since papa died.
And only a month afterwards poor little Grisha was drowned
in the river ; my pretty little brother, only seven years old !
It was too much for mamma ; she ran away, ran away without
looking back. (Shuddering.) How well I can understand
her, if only she knew ! (A pause.) Peter Trophimof was
Grisha's tutor ; he might remind her. 1
Enter FIRS in long coat and white waistcoat
FIRS (going over to the coffee-pot, anxiously). My mistress is
going to take coffee here. (Putting on white gloves.) Is the
coffee ready ? (Sternly, to DUNYASHA.) Here, girl, where's
the cream ?
DUNYASHA. Oh dear ! oh dear !
[Exit DUNYASHA hastily
FIRS (bustling about the coffee-pot). Ah, you . . . job-lot ! 2
1 When Anya and Barbara tell each other what both of them know so well,
it is not a clumsy stage device to inform the audience ; " each looks deep into
her heart and thinks aloud, recounting her own thoughts and impressions "
(Eichenwald in Pokrovsky, 891).
2 Job-lot. In the original, nedotepa, a word invented by Tchekhof, and now
established as classical. Derived from no, not, and dotydpat, to finish chopping.
The implication is : You're a bungling piece of work, chopped out with a
hatchet, and not finished at that. " Botchment " or " underbungle " would
have been more literal. " You are one of those who never get there," was
the Stage Society rendering. Batyushkof looks on it as the key to the whole
play (the word occurs several times) ; they are all nedotipas, Madame Ranevsky,
Gayef, Lopakhin, Trophimof, Ephikhodof, Yasha, even the tramp who lurches
across in Act II. That is the tragedy of it, and of Russian life at the present
moment (Pokrovsky, 67).
ACT i THE CHERRY ORCHARD 97
(Mumbling to himself.) She's come back from Paris. The
master went to Paris once in a post-chaise. (Laughing.)
BARBARA. What is it, Firs ?
FIRS. I beg your pardon ? (Joyfully.) My mistress has
come home ; at last I've seen her. Now I'm ready to die.
He cries with joy. Enter MADAME RANEVSKY, LOPAKHIN,
GAYEF and PISHTCHIK; PISHTCHIK in Russian breeches
and coat of fine cloth. 1 GAYEF as he enters makes gestures
as if playing billiards.
MADAME RANEVSKY. What was the expression ? Let me
see. " I'll put the red in the corner pocket ; double into the
GAYEF. I'll chip the red hi the right-hand top. Once upon
a time, Lyuba, when we were children, we used to sleep here
side by side in two little cots, and now I'm fifty-one, and can't
bring myself to believe it.
LOPAKHIN. Yes ; time flies.
GAYEF. Who did ?
LOPAKHIN. Time flies, I say.
GAYEF. There's a smell of patchouli !
ANYA. I am going to bed. Good-night, mamma. (Kissing
MADAME RANEVSKY. My beloved little girl ! (Kissing her
hands.) Are you glad you're home again ? I can't come to
my right senses.
ANYA. Good-night, uncle.
GAYEF (kissing her face and hands). God bless you, little
Anya. How like your mother you are ! (To MADAME RANEV-
SKY.) You were just such another girl at her age, Lyuba.
ANYA shakes hands with LOPAKHIN and SIMEONOF-PISHTCHIK,
and Exit, shutting her bedroom door behind her.
1 Simednof.Pishtchik. To judge from a picture of the actor who played this
personage at the Artistic Theatre, Pishtchik is a fine old Russian gentleman of
the old school : a jolly fellow with a big white beard, dressed in a coat that is
more of a gown than a coat, and a white woolly shirt that hangs nearly down
to his knees, confined by a silken rope about his formidable waist.
98 THE CHERRY ORCHARD ACT I
MADAME RANEVSKY. She's very, very tired.
PISHTCHIK. It must have been a long journey.
BARBARA (to LOPAKHIN and PISHTCHIK). Well, gentlemen,
it's past two ; time you were off.
MADAME RANEVSKY (laughing). You haven't changed a bit,
Barbara ! (Drawing her to herself and kissing her.) I'll just
finish my coffee, then we'll all go. (FiRS puts a footstool under
her feet.} Thank you, friend. I'm used to my coffee. I
drink it day and night. Thank you, you dear old man.
BARBARA. I'll go and see if they've got all the luggage.
MADAME RANEVSKY. Can it be me that's sitting here ?
(Laughing.) I want to jump and wave my arms about. (Paus-
ing and covering her face.) Surely I must be dreaming ! God
knows I love my country. I love it tenderly. I couldn't
see out of the window from the train, I was crying so. (Crying.)
However, I must drink my coffee. Thank you, Firs ; thank
you, you dear old man. I'm so glad to find you still alive.
FIRS. The day before yesterday.
GAYEF. He's hard of hearing.
LOPAKHIN. I've got to be off for Kharkof by the five-
o'clock train. Such a nuisance ! I wanted to stay and look
at you and talk to you. You're as splendid as you always were.
PISHTCHIK (sighing heavily). Handsomer than ever and
dressed like a Parisian . . . perish my waggon and all its wheels ! 1
LOPAKHIN. Your brother, Leonidas Andreyitch, says I'm
a snob, a money-grubber. He can say what he likes. I don't
care a hang. Only I want you to believe in me as you used to ;
I want your wonderful, touching eyes to look at me as they used
to. Merciful God in heaven ! My father was your father's
serf, and your grandfather's serf before him ; but you, you did
so much for me in the old days that I've forgotten everything,
and I love you like a sister more than a sister.
MADAME RANEVSKY. I can't sit still ! I can't do it I
1 Perish my waggon. This seems to be a sort of oath or asseveration.
ACT i THE CHERRY ORCHARD 99
(Jumping up and walking about in great agitation.) This
happiness is more than I can bear. Laugh at me ! I am a
fool ! (Kissing a cupboard.) My darling old cupboard !
(Caressing a table.) My dear little table !
GAYEF. Nurse is dead since you went away.
MADAME RANEVSKY (sitting down and drinking coffee). Yes,
Heaven rest her soul. They wrote and told me.
GAYEF. And Anastasius is dead. Squint-eyed Peter has
left us and works in the town at the Police Inspector's
GAYEF takes out a box of sugar candy from his pocket, and
begins to eat it.
PISHTCHIK. My daughter Dashenka sent her compliments.
LOPAKHIN. I long to say something charming and delightful
to you. (Looking at his watch.) I'm just off ; there's no time
to talk. Well, yes, I'll put it in two or three words. You
know that your cherry orchard is going to be sold to pay the
mortgage : the sale is fixed for the twenty-second of August ;
but don't you be uneasy, my dear lady ; sleep peacefully ; there's
a way out of it. This is my plan. Listen to me carefully.
Your property is only fifteen miles from the town ; the railway
runs close beside it ; and if only you will cut up the cherry
orchard and the land along the river into building lots and let
it off on lease for villas, you will get at least two thousand five
hundred pounds a year out of it.
GAYEF. Come, come ! What rubbish you're talking !
MADAME RANEVSKY. I don't quite understand what you
mean, Yermolai Alexyitch.
LOPAKHIN. You will get a pound a year at least for every
acre from the tenants, and if you advertise the thing at once,
I am ready to bet whatever you like, by the autumn you won't
have a clod of that earth left on your hands. It'll all be snapped
up. In two words, I congratulate you ; you are saved. It's
a first-class site, with a good deep river. Only of course you
will have to put it in order and clear the ground ; you will
have to pull down all the old buildings this house, for instance,
100 THE CHERRY ORCHARD ACT i
which is no longer fit for anything ; you'll have to cut down the
cherry orchard. . . .
MADAME RANEVSKY. Cut down the cherry orchard !
Excuse me, but you don't know what you're talking about.
If there is one thing that's interesting, remarkable in fact, in
the whole province, it's our cherry orchard.
LOPAKHIN. There's nothing remarkable about the orchard
except that it's a very big one. It only bears once every two
years, and then you don't know what to do with the fruit.
Nobody wants to buy it.
GAYEF. Our cherry orchard is mentioned in Andreyevsky's
LOPAKHIN (looking at his watch). If we don't make up our
minds or think of any way, on the twenty-second of August the
cherry orchard and the whole property will be sold by auction.
Come, make up your mind ! There's no other way out of it, I
swear absolutely none.
FIRS. In the old days, forty or fifty years ago, they used to
dry the cherries and soak 'em and pickle 'em, and make jam of
'em ; and the dried cherries . . .
GAYEF. Shut up, Firs.
FIRS. The dried cherries used to be sent in waggons to
Moscow and Kharkof. A heap of money ! The dried cherries
were soft and juicy and sweet and sweet-smelling then. They
knew some way in those days.
MADAME RANEVSKY. And why don't they do it now ?
FIRS. They've forgotten. Nobody remembers how to do it.
PISHTCHIK (to MADAME RANEVSKY). What about Paris ?
How did you get on ? Did you eat frogs ?
MADAME RANEVSKY. Crocodiles.
PISHTCHIK. You don't say so ! Well I never !
LOPAKHIN. Until a little while ago there was nothing but
gentry and peasants in the villages ; but now villa residents
have made their appearance. All the towns, even the little
ones, are surrounded by villas now. In another twenty years
the villa resident will have multiplied like anything. At
ACT i THE CHERRY ORCHARD 101
present he only sits and drinks tea on his verandah, but it is
quite likely that he will soon take to cultivating his three acres
of land, and then your old cherry orchard will become fruitful,
rich and happy. . . .
GAYEF (angry). What gibberish !
Enter BARBARA and YASHA
BARBARA (taking out a key and noisily unlocking an old-
fashioned cupboard). There are two telegrams for you, mamma.
Here they are.
MADAME RANEVSKY (tearing them up without reading them).
They're from Paris. I've done with Paris.
GAYEF. Do you know how old this cupboard is, Lyuba ?
A week ago I pulled out the bottom drawer and saw a date
burnt in it. That cupboard was made exactly a hundred years
ago. What do you think of that, eh ? We might celebrate
its jubilee. It's only an inanimate thing, but for all that it's
a historic cupboard.
PISHTCHIK (astonished). A hundred years ? Well I never !
GAYEF (touching the cupboard). Yes, it's a wonderful
thing. . . . Beloved and venerable cupboard ; honour and
glory to your existence, which for more than a hundred years
has been directed to the noble ideals of justice and virtue.
Your silent summons to profitable labour has never weakened
in all these hundred years. (Crying.) You have upheld the
courage of succeeding generations of our human kind ; you have
upheld faith in a better future and cherished in us ideals of
goodness and social consciousness. (A pause.)
LOPAKHIN. Yes. . . .
MADAME RANEVSKY. You haven't changed, Leonidas.
GAYEF (embarrassed). Off the white in the comer, chip the
red in the middle pocket ! *
1 Some people have a right to express their feelings and some have not. All
Gayef's female relatives combine to check his eloquence : it is a bad habit
picked up at little local public dinners and " occasions." This address to the
cupboard should be uttered lightly and quickly, or it will greatly queer the
pitch (as it did at the Stage Society) for Madame Ranevsky's touching apes-
102 THE CHERRY ORCHARD ACT i
LOPAKHIN (looking at his watch). Well, I must be off.
YASHA (handing a box to MADAME RANEVSKY). Perhaps
you'll take your pills now.
PISHTCHIK. You oughtn't to take medicine, dear lady.
It does you neither good nor harm. Give them here, my friend.
(He empties all the pills into the palm of his hand, blows on them,
puts them in his mouth and swallows them down with a draught
of quass.} There !
MADAME RANEVSKY (alarmed). Have you gone off your
PISHTCHIK. I've taken all the pills.
LOPAKHIN. Greedy feller ! (Everyone laughs.)
FIRS (mumbling). They were here in Easter week and
finished off a gallon of pickled gherkins.
MADAME RANEVSKY. What's he talking about ?
BARBARA. He's been mumbling like that these three years.
We've got used to it.
YASHA. Advancing age.
CHARLOTTE crosses in a white frock, very thin, tightly laced,
with a lorgnette at her waist.
LOPAKHIN. Excuse me, Charlotte Ivanovna, I've not paid
my respects to you yet. (He prepares to kiss her hand.)
CHARLOTTE (drawing her hand away). If one allows you to
kiss one's hand, you will want to kiss one's elbow next, and then
LOPAKHIN. I'm having no luck to-day. (All laugh.)
Charlotte Ivunovna, do us a conjuring trick.
MADAME RANEVSKY. Charlotte, do do us a conjuring trick.
trophe to the cherry orchard a little later. There is nothing moony about
Gayef. He is bright and virile, even spiteful ; he is drawn from the same
original as the caustic Count in Ivanof. (Pamyati, 46). If he assumes
a stupid look now and then, that is part of the defensive pride of the
noblesse (he is a typical remnant of the heavy swell), as when he snubs
impertinence with his idiotic "Who did ? " (in the original, kov6 ? whom ?).
It should be noticed, by the by, that he always plays a declaration game at
billiards, no flukes allowed.
ACT i THE CHERRY ORCHARD 103
CHARLOTTE. No, thank you. I'm going to bed.
LOPAKHIN. We shall meet again in three weeks. (Kissing
MADAME RANEVSKY'S hand.) Meanwhile, good-bye. I must
be off. (To GAYEF.) So-long. (Kissing PISHTCHIK.) Ta-ta.
(Shaking hands with BARBARA, then ivith FIRS and YASHA.)
I hate having to go. (To MADAME RANEVSKY.) If you make
up your mind about the villas, let me know, and I'll raise you
five thousand pounds at once. Think it over seriously.
BARBARA (angrily}. For heaven's sake do go !
LOPAKHIN. I'm going, I'm going. [Exit LOPAKHIN
GAYEF. Snob ! . . . However, pardon ! Barbara's going
to marry him ; he's Barbara's young man.
BARBARA. You talk too much, uncle
MADAME RANEVSKY. Why, Barbara, I shall be very glad.
He's a nice man.
PISHTCHIK. Not a doubt about it. ... A most worthy
individual. My Dashenka, she says . . . oh, she says . . . lots
of things. (Snoring and waking up again at once.) By the
by, dear lady, can you lend me twenty-five pounds ? I've got
to pay the interest on my mortgage to-morrow.
BARBARA (alarmed). We can't ! we can't !
MADAME RANEVSKY. It really is a fact that I haven't any
PISHTCHIK. I'll find it somewhere. (Laughing.) I never
lose hope. Last time I thought : " Now I really am done for,
I'm a ruined man," when behold, they ran a railway over my
land and paid me compensation. And so it'll be again ; some-
thing will happen, if not to-day, then to-morrow. Dashenka
may win the twenty-thousand-pound prize ; she's got a ticket
in the lottery.
MADAME RANEVSKY. The coffee's finished. Let's go to bed.
FIRS (brushing GAYEF'S clothes, admnnishingly). You've
put on the wrong trousers again. Whatever am I to do with
BARBARA (softly). Anya is asleep. (She opens the windmv
104 THE CHERRY ORCHARD ACT i
quietly.) The sun's up already ; it isn't cold now. Look,
mamma, how lovely the trees are. Heavens ! what a sweet
air ! The starlings are singing !
GAYEF (opening the other window). The orchard is all white.
You've not forgotten it, Lyuba ? This long avenue going
straight on, straight on, like a ribbon between the trees ? It
shines like silver on moonlight nights. Do you remember ?
You've not forgotten ?
MADAME RANEVSKY (looking out into the garden). Oh, my
childhood, my pure and happy childhood ! I used to sleep in
this nursery. I used to look out from here into the garden.
Happiness awoke with me every morning ; and the orchard
was just the same then as it is now ; nothing is altered. (Laugh-
ing with joy.) It is all white, all white ! Oh, my cherry
orchard ! After the dark and stormy autumn and the frosts of
winter you are young again and full of happiness ; the angels
of heaven have not abandoned you. Oh ! if only I could
free my neck and shoulders from the stone that weighs them
down ! If only I could forget my past !
GAYEF. Yes ; and this orchard will be sold to pay our
debts, however impossible it may seem. . . .
MADAME RANEVSKY. Look ! There's mamma walking in
the orchard . . . in a white frock ! (Laughing with joy.) There
she is !
GAYEF. Where ?
BARBARA. Heaven help you !
MADAME RANEVSKY. There's no one there really. It only
looked like it ; there on the right where the path turns down
to the summer-house ; there's a white tree that leans over
and looks like a woman. (Enter TROPHIMOF in a shabby student
uniform and spectacles.) What a wonderful orchard, with its
white masses of blossom and the blue sky above !
TROPHIMOF. Lyubof Andreyevna ! (She looks round at
him.) I only want to say, " How do you do," and go away
at once. (Kissing her hand eagerly.) I was told to wait till the
morning, but I hadn't the patience.
ACT i THE CHERRY ORCHARD 105
MADAME RANEVSKY looks at him in astonishment.
BARBARA (crying). This is Peter Trophimof.
TROPHIMOF. Peter Trophimof ; I was Grisha's tutor, you
know. Have I really altered so much ?
MADAME RANEVSKY embraces him and cries softly.
GAYEF. Come, come, that's enough, Lyuba !
BARBARA (crying). I told you to wait till to-morrow, you
MADAME RANEVSKY. My little Grisha ! My little boy !
Grisha . . . my son. . . .
BARBARA. It can't be helped, mamma. It was the will of
TROPHIMOF (gently, crying). There, there !
MADAME RANEVSKY (crying). He was drowned. My little
boy was drowned. Why ? What was the use of that, my
dear ? (In a softer voice.) Anya's asleep in there, and I
am speaking so loud, and making a noise. . . . But tell me,
Peter, why have you grown so ugly ? Why have you grown
so old ?
TROPHIMOF. An old woman in the train called me a
" mouldy gentleman."
MADAME RANEVSKY. You were quite a boy then, a dear
little student, and now your hair's going and you wear spectacles.
Are you really still a student ? (Going towards the door.)
TROPHIMOF. Yes, I shall be known as the Man who Never
Passed ; Pierre the Ploughman. 1
MADAME RANEVSKY (kissing her brother and then BARBARA).
Well, go to bed. You've grown old too, Leonidas.
PISHTCHIK (following her). Yes, yes ; time for bed. Oh,
oh, my gout ! I'll stay the night here. Don't forget, Lyubof
Andre" yevna, my angel, to-morrow morning . . . twenty-five.
GAYEF. He's still on the same string.
1 Pierre the Ploughman. Literally, " the Eternal Student," in allusion to
the Eternal (or, as we say in England, the Wandering) Jew (Vjeczny Zsid).
The translator has endeavoured to render the spirit of the original by sug-
gesting another imaginary character.
106 THE CHERRY ORCHARD ACT i
PISHTCHIK. Twenty-five ... to pay the interest on my
MADAME RANEVSKY. I haven't any money, friend.
PISHTCHIK. I'll pay you back, my dear. It's a mere flea-
MADAME RANEVSKY. Well, well, Leonidas will give it you.
Let him have it, Leonidas.
GAYEF (ironical). I'll give it him right enough ! Hold
your pocket wide ! 1
MADAME RANEVSKY. It can't be helped. . . . He needs it.
He'll pay it back.
[Exeunt MADAME RANEVSKY, TROPHIMOF, PISHTCHIK and
FIRS. GAYEF, BARBARA and YASHA remain
GAYEF. My sister hasn't lost her old habit of scattering
the money. (To YASHA.) Go away, my lad ! You smell of
YASHA (laughing). You're just the same as you always
were, Leonid Andreyevitch !
GAYEF. Who did ? 2 (To BARBARA.) What does he say ?
BARBARA (to YASHA). Your mother's come up from the
village. She's been waiting for you since yesterday in the
servants' hall. She wants to see you.
YASHA. What a nuisance she is !
BARBARA. You wicked, unnatural son !
YASHA. Well, what do I want with her ? She might just
as well have waited till to-morrow. [Exit YASHA
BARBARA. Mamma is just like she used to be ; she hasn't
changed a bit. If she had her way, she'd give away everything
GAYEF. Yes. (A pause.) If people recommend very
many cures for an illness, that means that the illness is incur-
able. I think and think, I batter my brains ; I know of many
remedies, very many, and that means really that there is none.
How nice it would be to get a fortune left one by somebody !
1 Hold your pocket wide. A proverbial piece of irony.
2 Who did ? See the note on Gayef at p. 102.
ACT i THE CHERRY ORCHARD 107
How nice it would be if Anya could marry a very rich man !
How nice it would be to go to Yaroslav and try my luck with
my aunt the Countess. My aunt is very, very rich, you
BARBARA (crying softly). If only God would help us !
GAYEF. Don't howl ! My aunt is very rich, but she does
not like us. In the first place, my sister married a solicitor,
not a nobleman. (ANYA appears in the doorway.) She
married a man who was not a nobleman, and it's no good
pretending that she has led a virtuous life. She's a dear,
kind, charming creature, and I love her very much, but
whatever mitigating circumstances one may find for her,
there's no getting round it that she's a sinful woman. You can
see it in her every gesture.
BARBARA (whispering). Anya is standing in the door !
GAYEF. Who did ? (A pause.) It's very odd, some-
thing's got into my right eye. I can't see properly out of it.
Last Thursday when I was down at the District Court . . .
ANYA comes down.
BARBARA. Why aren't you asleep, Anya ?
ANYA. I can't sleep. It's no good trying.
GAYEF. My little pet ! (Kissing ANYA'S hands and face.)
My little girl ! (Crying.) You're not my niece ; you're my
angel ; you're my everything. Trust me, trust me. . . .
ANYA. I do trust you, uncle. Everyone loves you, every-
one respects you ; but dear, dear uncle, you ought to hold your
tongue, only to hold your tongue. What were you saying
just now about rnamma ? about your own sister ? What was
the good of saying that ?
GAYEF. Yes, yes. (Covering his face with her hand.)
You're quite right ; it was awful of me ! Lord, Lord ! save
me from myself ! And to-day I made a speech over a cupboard.
What a stupid thing to do ! As soon as I had done it, I knew
it was stupid.
BARBARA. Yes, really, uncle. You ought to hold your
tongue. Say nothing ; that's all that's wanted.
108 THE CHERRY ORCHARD ACT i
ANYA. If only you would hold your tongue, you'd be so
much happier !
GAYEF. I will ! I will ! (Kissing ANYA'S and BAR-
BARA'S hands.) I'll hold my tongue. But there's one thing I
must say ; it's business. Last Thursday, when I was down at
the District Court, a lot of us were there together, we began to
talk about this and that, one thing and another, and it seems I
could arrange a loan on note of hand to pay the interest into the
BARBARA. If only Heaven would help us !
GAYEF. I'll go in on Tuesday and talk about it again.
(To BARBARA.) Don't howl ! (To ANYA.) Your mamma
shall have a talk with Lopakhin. Of course he won't refuse
her. And as soon as you are rested you must go to see your
grandmother, the Countess, at Yaroslav. We'll operate from
three points, and the trick is done. We'll pay the interest, I'm
certain of it. (Putting sugar candy into his mouth.) I swear
on my honour, or whatever you will, the property shall not be
sold. (Excitedly.) I swear by my hope of eternal happiness !
There's my hand on it. Call me a base, dishonourable man if
I let it go to auction. I swear by my whole being !
ANYA (calm again and happy). What a dear you are, uncle,
and how clever ! (Embraces him.) Now I'm easy again.
I'm easy again ! I'm happy !
FIRS (reproachfully). Leonid Andreyevitch, have you no
fear of God ? When are you going to bed ?
GAYEF. I'm just off just off. You get along, Firs. I'll
undress myself all right. Come, children, bye-bye ! Details
to-morrow, but now let's go to bed. (Kissing ANYA and
BARBARA.) I'm a good Liberal, a man of the eighties. People
abuse the eighties, but I think I may say that I've suffered
something for my convictions in my time. It's not for nothing
that the peasants love me. We ought to know the peasants ;
we ought to know with what . . .
ANYA. You're at it again, uncle !
ACT i THE CHERRY ORCHARD 109
BARBARA. Why don't you hold your tongue, uncle ?
FIRS (angrily). Leonid Andreyevitch !
GAYEF. I'm coming ; I'm coming. Now go to bed.
Off two cushions in the middle pocket ! I start another life ! . . .
[Exit, with FIRS hobbling after him
ANYA. Now my mind is at rest. I don't want to go to
Yaroslav ; I don't like grandmamma ; but my mind is at rest,
thanks to Uncle Leonidas. (She sits down.)
BARBARA. Time for bed. I'm off. Whilst you were away
there's been a scandal. You know that nobody lives in the
old servants' quarters except the old people, Ephim, Pauline,
Evstigney and old Karp. Well, they took to having in all sorts
of queer fish to sleep there with them. I didn't say a word.
But at last I heard they had spread a report that I had given
orders that they were to have nothing but peas to eat ; out of
stinginess, you understand ? It was all Evstigney's doing.
" Very well," I said to myself, " you wait a bit." So I sent for
Evstigney. ( Yawning.) He comes. "Now then, Evstigney,"
I said, " you old imbecile, how do you dare ..." (Looking
at ANYA.) Anya, Anya ! (A pause.) She's asleep. 1 (Taking
ANYA'S arm.) Let's go to bed. Come along. (Leading her
away.) Sleep on, my little one ! Come along ; come along !
(Ttiey go towards ANYA'S room. In the distance beyond the
orchard a shepherd plays his pipe. TROPHIMOF crosses the
stage and, seeing BARBARA and ANYA, stops.) 'Sh ! She's
asleep, she's asleep ! Come along, my love.
ANYA (drowsily). I'm so tired ! Listen to the bells !
Uncle, dear uncle ! Mamma ! Uncle !
BARBARA. Come along, my love ! Come along.
[Exeunt BARBARA and ANYA to the bedroom
TROPHIMOF (with emotion). My sunshine ! My spring !
1 "Anya falls asleep by the open window, where the white blossom of the
cherry-trees looks in, with the May sun shining on her " (Pokrovsky, p. 892).
In tlie open fields ; an old crooked half-ruined shrine. Near it
a well ; big stones, apparently old tombstones ; an old bench.
Road to the estate beyond. On one side rise dark poplar-
trees. Beyond them begins the clierry orchard. In the
distance a row of telegraph poles, and, far away on the
horizon, the dim outlines of a big town, visible only in fine,
clear weather. It is near sunset.
CHARLOTTE, YASHA and DUNYASHA sit on the bench. EPHIK-
HODOF stands by them and plays on a guitar ; they medi-
tate. CHARLOTTE wears an old peaked cap. 1 She has
taken a gun from off her shoulders and is mending the
buckle of the strap.
CHARLOTTE (thoughtfully). I have no proper passport. I
don't know how old I am ; I always feel I am still young.
When I was a little girl my father and mother used to go about
from one country fair to another, giving performances, and very
good ones too. I used to do the salto mortale and all sorts of
tricks. When papa and mamma died an old German lady
adopted me and educated me. Good ! When I grew up I
became a governess. But where I come from and who I am,
I haven't a notion. Who my parents were very likely they
weren't married I don't know. (Taking a cucumber from her
pocket and beginning to eat.) I don't know anything about it.
(A pause.) I long to talk so, and I have no one to talk to, I
have no friends or relations.
EPHIKHODOF (playing on the guitar and singing).
" What is the noisy world to me ?
Oh, what are friends, and foes ? "
How sweet it is to play upon a mandoline !
1 Furdzska, the commonest men's headgear in Russia, shaped like a yacht-
ACT ii THE CHERRY ORCHARD 111
DUNYASHA. That's a guitar, not a mandoline. (She looks
at herself in a hand-glass and powders her face.)
EPHIKHODOF. For the madman who loves, it is a mandoline.
" Oh, that my heart were cheered
By the warmth of requited love."
(YASHA joins in.)
CHARLOTTE. How badly these people do sing ! Foo !
Like jackals howling !
DUNYASHA (to YASHA). What happiness it must be to live
YASHA. Of course it is ; I quite agree with you. (He yawns
and lights a cigar.)
EPHIKHODOF. It stands to reason. Everything abroad
has attained a certain culmination. 1
YASHA. That's right.
EPHIKHODOF. I am a man of cultivation ; I have studied
various remarkable books, but I cannot fathom the direction
of my preferences ; do I want to live or do I want to shoot
myself, so to speak ? But in order to be ready for all con-
tingencies, I always carry a revolver in my pocket. Here it
is. (Showing revolver.)
CHARLOTTE. That's done. I'm off. (Slinging the rifle over
her shoulder.) You're a clever fellow, Ephikhodof, and very
alarming. Women must fall madly in love with you. Brrr !
(Going.) These clever people are all so stupid ; I have no one
to talk to. I am always alone, always alone ; I have no
friends or relations, and who I am, or why I exist, is a mystery.
EPHIKHODOF. Strictly speaking, without touching upon
other matters, I must protest inter alia that destiny treats me
with the utmost rigour, as a tempest might treat a small ship.
If I labour under a misapprehension, how is it that when I
woke up this morning, behold, so to speak, I perceived sitting
1 Culnimation. This represents a similar blunder of Ephikh6dof in the
112 THE CHERRY ORCHARD ACT n
on my chest a spider of prseternatural dimensions, like that
(indicating with both hands) ? And if I go to take a draught of
quass, I am sure to find something of the most indelicate char-
acter, in the nature of a cockroach. (A pause.} Have you
read Buckle? 1 (A pause.} (To DUNYASHA.) I should like
to trouble you, Avdotya Fedorovna, 2 for a momentary inter-
DUNYASHA. Talk away.
EPHIKHODOF. I should prefer to conduct it tete-a-tete.
DUNYASHA (confused}. Very well, only first please fetch me
my cloak. 3 It's by the cupboard. It's rather damp here.
EPHIKHODOF. Very well, mademoiselle. I will go and
fetch it, mademoiselle. Now I know what to do with my
revolver. [Takes his guitar and exit, playing
YASHA. Twenty-two misfortunes ! Between you and me,
he's a stupid fellow. (Yawning.)
DUNYASHA. Heaven help him, he'll shoot himself ! (A
pause.) I have grown so nervous, I am always in a twitter. I
was quite a little girl when they took me into the household,
and now I have got quite disused to common life, and my
hands are as white as white, like a lady's. I have grown
so refined, so delicate and genteel, I am afraid of everything.
I'm always frightened. And if you deceive me, Yasha, I
don't know what will happen to my nerves.
YASHA (kissing her.) You little cucumber ! Of course every
1 Buckle's " History of Civilisation" is better known in Russia than here.
To have read it is a sort of cachet of popular erudition, equivalent, say, to
knowing your Herbert Spencer in England. Ephikhodof is a new type, evolved
since the Liberation and the Reforms of Alexander II. He is just the opposite
of Lopakhin. Ephikhodof is stupid and has intellectual aspirations. Lopakhin
is clever and has no intellectual aspirations. (See Batyushkof in Pokrovsky,
8 Avdotya Fedorovna. Dunya (diminutive Dunyasha), stands for Avdotya,
formally Evdokiya, representing the Greek Eudoxia.
3 Cloak. Talmotchka, a diminutive of talma, for which see the note on
The Seagull, Act IV. p. 81.
ACT H THE CHERRY ORCHARD 113
girl ought to behave herself properly ; there's nothing I dis-
like as much as when girls aren't proper in their behaviour.
DUNYASHA. I've fallen dreadfully in love with you. You're
so educated ; you can talk about anything ! (A pause.)
YASHA (yawning). Yes. . . . The way I look at it is this ;
if a girl falls in love with anybody, then I call her immoral.
(A pause.) How pleasant it is to smoke one's cigar in the open
air. (Listening.) There's someone coming. It's the missis
and the rest of 'em. . . . (DUNYASHA embraces him hastily.)
Go towards the house as if you'd just been for a bathe. Go by
this path or else they'll meet you and think that I've been
walking out with you. I can't stand that sort of thing.
DUNYASHA (coughing softly). Your cigar has given me a
[Exit DUNYASHA. YASHA remains sitting by the shrine. Enter
MADAME RANEVSKY, GAYEF and LOPAKHIN
LOPAKHIN. You must make up your minds once and for all.
Time waits for no man. The question is perfectly simple.
Are you going to let off the land for villas or not ? Answer in
one word ; yes or no ? Only one word !
MADAME RANEVSKY. Who's smoking horrible cigars here ?
(She sits down.)
GAYEF. How handy it is now they've built that railway.
(Sitting.) We've been into town for lunch and back again. . . .
Red in the middle ! I must just go up to the house and have a
MADAME RANEVSKY. There's no hurry.
LOPAKHIN. Only one word yes or no ! (Entreatingly.)
Come, answer the question !
GAYEF (yawning). Who did ?
MADAME RANEVSKY (looking into tier purse). I had a lot
of money yesterday but there's hardly any left now. Poor
Barbara tries to save money by feeding us all on milk soup ; the
old people in the kitchen get nothing but peas, and yet I go
squandering aimlessly. . . . (Dropping her purse and scattering
gold coins ; vexed.) There, I've dropped it all !
114 THE CHERRY ORCHARD ACT n
YASHA. Allow me, I'll pick it up. (Collecting the coins.)
MADAME RANEVSKY. Yes, please do, Yasha! Whatever
made me go in to town for lunch ? I hate your horrid restaur-
ant with the organ and the tablecloths all smelling of soap.
Why do you drink so much, Leonidas ? Why do you eat so
much ? Why do you talk so much ? You talked too much at
the restaurant again, and most unsuitably, about the seventies,
and the decadents. And to whom ? Fancy talking about
decadents to the waiters !
LOPAKHIN. Quite true.
GAYEF (with a gesture). I'm incorrigible, that's plain.
(Irritably to YASHA.) What do you keep dodging about in
front of me for ?
YASHA (laughing). I can't hear your voice without laughing.
GAYEF (to MADAME RANEVSKY). Either he or I . . .
MADAME RANEVSKY. Go away, Yasha ; run along.
YASHA (handing MADAME RANEVSKY her purse). I'll go at
once. (Restraining his laughter with difficulty.) This very
minute. [Exit YASHA
LOPAKHIN. Deriganof, the millionaire, wants to buy your
property. They say he'll come to the auction himself.
MADAME RANEVSKY. How did you hear ?
LOPAKHIN. I was told so in town.
GAYEF. Our aunt at Yaroslav has promised to send
something ; but I don't know when, or how much.
LOPAKHIN. How much will she send ? Ten thousand pounds ?
Twenty thousand pounds ?
MADAME RANEVSKY. Oh, come ... A thousand or fifteen
hundred at the most.
LOPAKHIN. Excuse me, but in all my life I never met any-
body so frivolous as you two, so crazy and unbusiness-like !
I tell you in plain Russian your property is going to be sold,
and you don't seem to understand what I say.
MADAME RANEVSKY. Well, what are we to do ? Tell us
what you want us to do.
LOPAKHIN. Don't I tell you every day ? Every day I say
ACT ii THE CHERRY ORCHARD 115
the same thing over and over again. You must lease off the
cherry orchard and the rest of the estate for villas ; you must
do it at once, this very moment ; the auction will be on you in
two twos ! Try and understand. Once you make up your
mind there are to be villas, you can get all the money you want,
and you're saved.
MADAME RANEVSKY. Villas and villa residents, oh, please,
. . . it's so vulgar !
GAYEF. I quite agree with you.
LOPAKHIN. I shall either cry, or scream, or faint. I can't
stand it ! You'll be the death of me. (To GAYEF.) You're
an old woman !
GAYEF. Who did ?
LOPAKHIN. You're an old woman ! (Going.}
MADAME RANEVSKY (frightened}. No, don't go. Stay here,
there's a dear ! Perhaps we shall think of some way.
LOPAKHIN. What's the good of thinking !
MADAME RANEVSKY. Please don't go ; I want you. At
any rate it's gayer when you're here. (A pause.} I keep
expecting something to happen, as if the house were going to
tumble down about our ears.
GAYEF (in deep abstraction}. Off the cushion in the corner ;
double into the middle pocket. . . .
MADAME RANEVSKY. We have been very, very sinful !
LOPAKHIN. You ! What sins have you committed ?
GAYEF (eating candy}. They say I've devoured all my
substance in sugar candy. (Laughing.}
MADAME RANEVSKY. Oh, the sins that I have committed
. . . I've always squandered money at random like a mad-
woman ; I married a man who made nothing but debts. My
husband drank himself to death on champagne ; he was a fearful
drinker. Then for my sins I fell in love and went off with
another man ; and immediately that was my first punish-
ment a blow full on the head . . . here, in this very river . . .
my little boy was drowned ; and I went abroad, right, right
away, never to come back any more, never to see this river
116 THE CHERRY ORCHARD ACT n
again. ... I shut my eyes and ran, like a mad thing, and he
came after me, pitiless and cruel. I bought a villa at Mentone,
because he fell ill there, and for three years I knew no rest day
or night ; the sick man tormented and wore down my soul.
Then, last year, when my villa was sold to pay my debts, I
went off to Paris, and he came and robbed me of everything,
left me and took up with another woman, and I tried to poison
myself. ... It was all so stupid, so humiliating. . . . Then
suddenly I longed to be back in Russia, in my own country,
with my little girl. . . . (Wiping away her tears.) Lord,
Lord, be merciful to me ; forgive my sins ! Do not punish
me any more ! (Taking a telegram from her pocket.) I got this
to-day from Paris. . . . He asks to be forgiven, begs me to go
back. . . . (Tearing up the telegram.) Isn't that music that
I hear ? (Listening.)
GAYEF. That's our famous Jewish band. You remember ?
Four fiddles, a flute and a double bass.
MADAME RANEVSKY. Does it still exist ? We must make
them come up some time ; we'll have a dance.
LOPAKHIN (listening). I don't hear anything. (Singing
softly :) " The Germans for a fee will turn
A Russ into a Frenchman."
(Laughing.) I saw a very funny piece at the theatre last
night ; awfully funny !
MADAME RANEVSKY. It probably wasn't a bit funny.
You people oughtn't to go and see plays ; you ought to try to
see yourselves ; to see what a dull life you lead, and how much
too much you talk.
LOPAKHIN. Quite right. To tell the honest truth, our life's
an imbecile affair. (A pause.} My papa was a peasant, an
idiot ; he understood nothing ; he taught me nothing ; all he
did was to beat me when he was drunk, with a walking-stick.
As a matter of fact I'm just as big a blockhead and idiot as he
was. I never did any lessons ; my handwriting's abominable ;
I write so badly I'm ashamed before people ; like a pig/
MADAME RANEVSKY. You ought to get married.
ACT ii THE CHERRY ORCHARD 117
LOPAKHIN. Yes ; that's true.
MADAME RANEVSKY. Why not marry Barbara ? She's
a nice girl.
MADAME RANEVSKY. She's a nice simple creature ; works
all day ; and what's most important, she loves you. You've
been fond of her for a long time.
LOPAKHIN. Well, why not ? I'm quite willing. She's a
very nice girl. (A pause.)
GAYEF. I've been offered a place in a bank. Six hundred
pounds a year. Do you hear ?
MADAME RANEVSKY. You in a bank ! Stay where you are.
Enter FIRS, carrying an overcoat
FIRS (to GAYEF). Put this on, please, master ; it's getting
GAYEF (putting on the coat). What a plague you are, Firs !
FIRS. What's the use. . . . You went off and never told
me. (Examining his clothes.)
MADAME RANEVSKY. How old you've got, Firs !
FIRS. I beg your pardon ?
LOPAKHIN. She says how old you've got !
FIRS. I've been alive a long time. When they found me a
wife, your father wasn't even born yet. (Laughing.) And
when the Liberation came I was already chief valet. But I
wouldn't have any Liberation then ; I stayed with the master.
(A pause.) I remember how happy everybody was, but why
they were happy they didn't know themselves.
LOPAKHIN. It was fine before then. Anyway they used to
FIRS (mishearing him). I should think so ! The peasants
minded the masters, and the masters minded the peasants,
but now it's all higgledy piggledy ; you can't make head or
tail of it.
GAYEF. Shut up, Firs. I must go into town again to-
morrow. I've been promised an introduction to a general
who'll lend money on a hill.
118 THE CHERRY ORCHARD ACT n
LOPAKHIN. You'll do no good. You won't even pay the
interest ; set your mind at ease about that.
MADAME RANEVSKY (to LOPAKHIN). He's only talking
nonsense. There's no such general at all.
Enter TROPHIMOF, ANYA and BARBARA
GAYEF. Here come the others.
ANYA. Here's mamma.
MADAME RANEVSKY (tenderly). Come along, come along, . . .
my little ones. . . . (Embracing ANYA and BARBARA.) If only
you knew how much I love you both ! Sit beside me . . . there,
like that. (Everyone sits.)
LOPAKHIN. Pierre the Ploughman's always among the girls.
TROPHIMOF. It's no affair of yours.
LOPAKHIN. He's nearly fifty and still a student.
TROPHIMOF. Stop your idiotic jokes !
LOPAKHIN. What are you losing your temper for,
TROPHIMOF. Why can't you leave me alone ?
LOPAKHIN (laughing). I should like to know what your
opinion is of me ?
TROPHIMOF. My opinion of you, Yermolai Alexeyitch, is
this. You're a rich man ; you'll soon be a millionaire. Just
as a beast of prey which devours everything that comes in its
way is necessary for the conversion of matter, so you are neces-
sary too. (All laugh.) 1
1 " Lopakhin is by no means a representative of the new life that is to take
the place of the old one passing away. He is as weak and superfluous as the
rest, as passive as those he displaces. There are no representatives of the new
life in the play. . . . When Peter compares him to a bird of prey they all
laugh, because there is nothing of the bird of prey in him at all, as there should
be to accord with his function in society. ... He is as deeply unhappy a
man as the rest of them" (Glinka in Pokrovsky, 898, 899). As for Tro-
phimof, he is " the most real of students, such a student as was probably never
seen before on the Russian stage ; and Katchdlof the actor made him a living
figure by his subtle acting ; the smile, the mimicry, the gestures, the frank,
sincere, wholly Russian way of talking and arguing. ... As if snatched alive
from the Mdlaya Bronnaya, from the free ' Committee ' dining-rooms. There
are students there as like him as two drops of water" (Idem ibid. 907).
ACT ii THE CHERRY ORCHARD 119
BARBARA. Tell us something about the planets, Peter,
MADAME RANEVSKY. No. Let's go on with the conversa-
tion we were having yesterday.
TROPHIMOF. What about ?
GAYEF. About the proud man.
TROPHIMOF. We had a long talk yesterday, but we didn't
come to any conclusion. There is something mystical in the
proud man in the sense in which you use the words. You may
be right from your point of view, but, if we look at it simple-
mindedly, what room is there for pride ? Is there any sense
in it, when man is so poorly constructed from the physiological
point of view, when the vast majority of us are so gross and
stupid and profoundly unhappy ? We must give up admiring
ourselves. The only thing to do is to work.
GAYEF. We shall die all the same.
TROPHIMOF. Who knows ? And what does it mean, to die ?
Perhaps man has a hundred senses, and when he dies only the
five senses that we know perish with him, and the other ninety-
five remain alive.
MADAME RANEVSKY. How clever you are, Peter !
LOPAKHIN (ironically). Oh, extraordinary !
TROPHIMOF. Mankind marches forward, perfecting its
strength. Everything that is unattainable for us now will one
day be near and clear ; but we must work ; we must help with
all our force those who seek for truth. At present only a few
men work in Russia. The vast majority of the educated
people that I know seek after nothing, do nothing, and are as
yet incapable of work. They call themselves the " Intelli-
gentsia," they use " thou " and " thee " to the servants, they
treat the peasants like animals, learn nothing, read nothing
serious, do absolutely nothing, only talk about science, and
understand little or nothing about art. They are all serious ;
they all have solemn faces ; they only discuss important
subjects ; they philosophise ; but meanwhile the vast majority
of us, ninety-nine per cent, live like savages ; at the least
120 THE CHERRY ORCHARD ACT n
thing they curse and punch people's heads ; they eat like beasts
and sleep in dirt and bad air ; there are bugs everywhere, evil
smells, damp and moral degradation. . . . It's plain that all our
clever conversations are only meant to distract our own atten-
tion and other people's. Show me where those creches are,
that they're always talking so much about ; or those reading-
rooms. They are only things people write about in novels ;
they don't really exist at all. Nothing exists but dirt, vulgarity
and Asiatic ways. I am afraid of solemn faces ; I dislike them ;
I am afraid of solemn conversations. Let us rather hold our
LOPAKHIN. Do you know, I get up at five every morning,
I work from morning till night ; I am always handling my own
money or other people's, and I see the sort of men there are
about me. One only has to begin to do anything to see how
few honest and decent people there are. 1 Sometimes, as I lie
awake in bed, I think : " O Lord, you have given us mighty
forests, boundless fields and immeasurable horizons, and, we
living in their midst, ought really to be giants."
MADAME RANEVSKY. Oh dear, you want giants ! They
are all very well in fairy stories ; but in real life they are rather
alarming. (EPHIKHODOF passes at the back of the scene, playing
on, his guitar.) (Pensively.} There goes Ephikhodof.
ANYA (pensively}. There goes Ephikhodof.
GAYEF. The sun has set.
GAYEF (as if declaiming, but not loud}. O Nature, wonderful
Nature, you glow with eternal light ; beautiful and indifferent,
you whom we call our mother, uniting in yourself both life and
death, you animate and you destroy. . . .
BARBARA (entreatingly}. Uncle !
ANYA. You're at it again, uncle !
1 Honest and decent people. " In Russia," Tchekhof said to Gorky, " an
honest man is a sort of bogey that nurses frighten children with " (Pamyati,
88). It is wonderful how like Gorky Tchekhof talked when he talked to
ACT ii THE CHERRY ORCHARD 121
TROPHIMOF. You'd far better double the red into the middle
GAYEF. I'll hold my tongue ! I'll hold my tongue !
They all sit pensively. Silence reigns, broken only by the mumbling
of old FIRS. Suddenly a distant sound is heard as if from
the sky, the sound of a string breaking, dying away, melan-
MADAME RANEVSKY. What's that ?
LOPAKHIN. I don't know. It's a lifting-tub given way
somewhere away in the mines. It must be a long way off.
GAYEF. Perhaps it's some sort of bird ... a heron, or
TROPHIMOF. Or an owl. . . .
MADAME RANEVSKY (shuddering). There's something un-
canny about it !
FIRS. The same thing happened before the great misfor-
tune : the owl screeched and the samovar kept humming.
GAYEF. What great misfortune ?
FIRS. The Liberation. (A pause.) l
MADAME RANEVSKY. Come, everyone, let's go in ; it's
getting late. (To ANYA.) You've tears in your eyes. What
is it, little one ? (Embracing her.)
ANYA. Nothing, mamma. I'm all right.
TROPHIMOF. There's someone coming.
TRAMP appears in a torn white peaked cap and overcoat.
He is slightly drunk.
TRAMP. Excuse me, but can I go through this way straight
to the station ?
1 The sound of a tub falling in a mine is a very old remembrance,
an impression of boyhood got in the steppes (Pamyati, 43). Tchekhof made use
of it once before, in his tale, " Happiness." " Something gave a threatening
ach 1 struck a rock and ran over the steppe crying ' tach ! tach ! tach ! ' '
It follows a story of disappointment there, of fortune nearly achieved. It
gives the sense of laughter from afar, the mirth of an ironical spirit, half like
a distant sigh. It comes again at the end of this play, and is answer enough to
those who think that Trophimof with his handy little Millennium voices
Tchekhof's own philosophy of the future. Cf. that excellent critic, Glinka,
in Pokrovsky, 910.
122 THE CHERRY ORCHARD ACT n
GAYEF. Certainly. Follow this path.
TRAMP. I am uncommonly obliged to you, sir. (Coughing.)
We're having lovely weather. (Declaiming:) "Brother, my
suffering brother . . . Come forth upon the Volga, you whose
groan . . ." (To BARBARA.) Mademoiselle, please spare a
sixpence for a hungry fellow-countryman.
BARBARA, frightened, screams.
LOPAKHIN (angrily). There's a decency for every indecency
to observe !
MADAME RANEVSKY. Take this ; here you are. (Fumbling
in her purse.) I haven't any silver. . . . Never mind, take
TRAMP. I am uncommonly obliged to you, madam.
[Exit TRAMP. Laughter l
BARBARA (frightened). I'm going ! I'm going ! Oh,
mamma, there's nothing for the servants to eat at home, and
you've gone and given this man a sovereign.
MADAME RANEVSKY. What's to be done with your stupid
old mother ? I'll give you up everything I have when I get
back. Yermolai Alexeyitch, lend me some more money.
LOPAKHIN. Very good.
MADAME RANEVSKY. Come along, everyone ; it's time to go
in. We've settled all about your marriage between us, Bar-
bara. I wish you joy.
BARBARA (through her tears). You mustn't joke about such
LOPAKHIN. Amelia, get thee to a nunnery, go !
1 The tramp. " A contemporary variety of the Superfluous Man," says
Batyushkof ; " one who has failed to find his proper place in the world's
economy; another 'job-lot'" (Pokrovsky, 67). " He appears with a tree-
branch in his hand," says Eichenwald, " with verses of Nadson and Nekrasof
on his drunken lips. A whole drama, a whole life, ruined, sorrowful, pitiful,
flashes before you" (Ibid. 893). " Brother, my suffering brother" is from
a poem of Nadson's that cries hope to the downtrodden, promising a reign of
love on earth, when Christ shall come again, not in a crown of thorns, but in
power and glory, with the torch of happiness in his hands. The translator
cannot find the rest in Nekrasof ; Eichenwald is perhaps mistaken.
ACT ii THE CHERRY ORCHARD 123
GAYEF. My hands are all trembling ; it's ages since I had
a game of billiards.
LOPAKHIN. Amelia, nymphlet, in thine orisons remember
MADAME RANEVSKY. Come along. It's nearly supper-time.
BARBARA. How he frightened me ! My heart is simply
LOPAKHIN. Allow me to remind you, the cherry orchard is
to be sold on the twenty-second of August. Bear that in
mind ; bear that in mind !
[Exeunt OMNES except TROPHIMOF and ANYA
ANYA (laughing). Many thanks to the Tramp for frightening
Barbara ; at last we are alone.
TROPHIMOF. Barbara's afraid we shall go and fall in love
with each other. Day after day she never leaves us alone.
With her narrow mind she cannot understand that we are above
love. To avoid everything petty, everything illusory, every-
thing that prevents one from being free and happy, that is the
whole meaning and purpose of our life. Forward ! We march
on irresistibly towards that bright star which burns far, far
before us ! Forward ! Don't tarry, comrades !
ANYA (clasping her hands). What beautiful things you say !
(A pause.) Isn't it enchanting here to-day !
TROPHIMOF. Yes, it's wonderful weather.
ANYA. What have you done to me, Peter ? Why is it that
I no longer love the cherry orchard as I did ? I used to love
it so tenderly ; I thought there was no better place on earth
than our garden.
TROPHIMOF. All Russia is our garden. 2 The earth is
great and beautiful ; it is full of wonderful places. (A pause.)
Think, Anya, your grandfather, your great-grandfather and all
1 There is a wretched pun in the original : Ophelia is called Okhmelia
(from okhmelit, to get drunk). Lopakhin evidently frequents silly operettas
and burlesques and delights in them. Cf. his verse about the Germans on
* See the conversation with Kuprin quoted in the Introduction (p. 21).
124 THE CHERRY ORCHARD ACT n
your ancestors were serf-owners, owners of living souls. Do not
human spirits look out at you from every tree in the orchard,
from every leaf and every stem ? Do you not hear human
voices ? . . . Oh ! it is terrible. Your orchard frightens me.
When I walk through it in the evening or at night, the rugged
bark on the trees glows with a dim light, and the cherry-trees
seem to see all that happened a hundred and two hundred years
ago in painful and oppressive dreams. Well, well, we have
fallen at least two hundred years behind the times. We have
achieved nothing at all as yet ; we have not made up our minds
how we stand with the past ; we only philosophise, complain
of boredom, or drink vodka, It is so plain that, before we can
live in the present, we must first redeem the past, and have done
with it ; and it is only by suffering that we can redeem it, only
by strenuous, unremitting toil. Understand that, Anya.
ANYA. The house we live in has long since ceased to be our
house ; and I shall go away, I give you my word.
TROPHIMOF. If you have the household keys, throw them
in the well and go away. Be free, be free as the wind.
ANYA (enthusiastically). How beautifully you put it !
TROPHIMOF. Believe what I say, Anya ; believe what I
say. I'm not thirty yet ; I am still young, still a student ; but
what I have been through ! I am hungry as the winter ; I
am sick, anxious, poor as a beggar. Fate has tossed me
hither and thither ; I have been everywhere, everywhere. But
wherever I have been, every minute, day and night, my soul
has been full of mysterious anticipations. I feel the approach
of happiness, Anya ; I see it coming. . . .
ANYA (pensively). The moon is rising.
EPHIKHODOF is heard still playing the same sad tune on his
guitar. The moon rises. Somewhere beyond the poplar-
trees, BARBARA is heard calling for Anya : " Anya, where
are you ? "
TROPHIMOF. Yes, the moon is rising. (A pause.} There
it is, there is happiness ; it is coming towards us, nearer and
nearer ; I can hear the sound of its footsteps. . . . And if we do
ACT ii THE CHERRY ORCHARD 125
not see it, if we do not know it, what does it matter ? Others
will see it.
BARBARA (without). Anya ? Where are you ?
TROPHIMOF. There's Barbara again ! (Angrily.) It really
is too bad !
ANYA. Who cares ? Let us go down to the river. It's
TROPHIMOF. Come on !
[Exeunt ANYA and TROPHIMOF
BARBARA (without). Anya ! Anya !
A sitting-room separated by an arch from a big drawing-room
behind. Chandelier lighted. The Jewish band mentioned
in Act II. is heard playing on the landing. Evening. In
the drawing-room they are dancing the grand rond.
SiMEONOF-PiSHTCHiK is heard crying : " Promenade a
une paire ! "
The dancers come down into the sitting-room. The first pair
consists of PISHTCHIK and CHARLOTTE ; the second of
TROPHIMOF and MADAME RANEVSKY ; the third of ANYA
and the POST-OFFICE OFFICIAL; the fourth of BARBARA
and the STATIONM ASTER, etc., etc. BARBARA is crying
softly and wipes away the tears as she dances. In the last
pair comes DUNYASHA. They cross the sitting-room.
PISHTCHIK. Grand rond, balancez . . . Les cavaliers a
genou et remerciez vos dames."
FIRS in evening dress carries seltzer water across on a tray.
PISHTCHIK and TROPHIMOF come down into the sitting-room.
PISHTCHIK. I am a full-blooded man ; I've had two strokes
already ; it's hard work dancing, but, as the saying goes :
" If you run with the pack, bark or no, but anyway wag your
tail." I'm as strong as a horse. My old father, who was fond
of his joke, rest his soul, used to say, talking of our pedigree,
that the ancient stock of the Simeonof-Pishtchiks was descended
from that very horse that Caligula appointed to the senate. . . .
(Sitting.) But the worst of it is, I've got no money. A hungry
dog believes in nothing but meat. (Snoring and waking up
again at once.) I'm just the same . . . It's nothing but money,
money, with me.
TROPHIMOF. Yes, it's quite true, there is something horse-
like about your build.
ACT in THE CHERRY ORCHARD 127
PISHTCHIK. Well, well ... a horse is a jolly creature . . .
you can sell a horse.
A sound of billiards being played in the next room. BARBARA
appears in the drawing-room beyond the arch.
TROPHIMOF (teasing her). Madame Lopakhin ! Madame
BARBARA (angrily). Mouldy gentleman !
TROPHIMOF. Yes ; I'm a mouldy gentleman, and I'm proud
BARBARA (bitterly). We've hired the band, but where's the
money to pay for it ? [Exit BARBARA
TROPHIMOF (to PISHTCHIK). If the energy which you have
spent in the course of your whole life in looking for money to
pay the interest on your loans had been diverted to some other
purpose, you would have had enough of it, I daresay, to turn
the world upside down.
PISHTCHIK. Nietzsche . . . the philosopher ... a very
remarkable man, very famous ... a man of gigantic intellect,
says in his works that it's quite right to forge banknotes.
TROPHIMOF. What, have you read Nietzsche ?
PISHTCHIK. Well . . . Dashenka told me. . . . But I'm
in such a hole, I'd forge them for twopence. I've got to pay
thirty-one pounds the day after to-morrow. . . . I've got
thirteen pounds already. (Feeling his pockets ; alarmed.) My
money's gone ! I've lost my money ! (Crying.) Where's
my money got to ? (Joyfully.) Here it is, inside the lining. . . .
It's thrown me all in a sweat. . . .
Enter MADAME RANEVSKY and CHARLOTTE
MADAME RANEVSKY (humming a lezginka 1 ). Why is
Leonidas so long ? What can he be doing in the town ? (To
DUNYASHA.) Dunyasha, ask the musicians if they'll have
TROPHIMOF. The sale did not come off, in all probability.
MADAME RANEVSKY. It was a stupid day for the musicians
1 Lezginka. A lively Caucasian dance in two-four time, popularised by
Glinka, and by Rubinstein iii his opera, Demon.
128 THE CHERRY ORCHARD ACT in
to come ; it was a stupid day to have this dance. . . . Well,
well, it doesn't matter. . . . (She sits down and sings softly
CHARLOTTE (giving PISHTCHIK a pack of cards). Here is a
pack of cards. Think of any card you like.
PISHTCHIK. I've thought of one.
CHARLOTTE. Now shuffle the pack. That's all right.
Give them here, oh, most worthy Mr Pishtchik. Ein, zwei,
drei ! Now look and you'll find it in your side pocket.
PISHTCHIK (taking a card from his side pocket). The Eight
of Spades ! You're perfectly right. (Astonished.) Well I
CHARLOTTE (holding the pack on the palm of her hand, to
TROPHIMOF.) Say quickly, what's the top card ?
TROPHIMOF. Well, say the Queen of Spades.
CHARLOTTE. Right ! (To PISHTCHIK.) Now then, what's
the top card ?
PISHTCHIK. Ace of Hearts.
CHARLOTTE. Right ! (She claps her hands ; the pack of
cards disappears.) What a beautiful day we've been having.
A mysterious female VOICE answers her as if from under the
floor : " Yes, indeed, a charming day, mademoiselle."
CHARLOTTE. You are my beautiful ideal.
THE VOICE. / think you also ferry peautiful, mademoiselle."
STATIONMASTER (applauding). Bravo, Miss Ventriloquist !
PISHTCHIK (astonished). Well, I never ! Bewitching
Charlotte Ivanovna, I'm head over ears in love with you.
1 Charlotte does not herself talk broken Russian ; it is just her fun. This
scene was shockingly done at the Stage Society. The details of the background,
such as the conjuring tricks, ought not to be forced unmercifully on the audi-
ence ; there should be no loading of local colour in the dances to distract atten-
tion ; no ingenious humour over things like the Stationmaster's recitation. All
this must go lightly and quickly. The faults that Meyerhold found with the
Moscow production (" Teatr," p. 44) were exaggerated a hundredfold at the
Stage Society ; Madame Ranevsky, left unsupported, ceased to exist upon the
stage at all ; what Meyerhold calls the Leitmotiv of the scene was drowned
in ornaments and variations.
ACT in THE CHERRY ORCHARD 129
CHARLOTTE. In love ! (Shrugging her shoulders.) Are you
capable of love ? Guter Mensch, aber schlechter Musikant !
TROPHIMOF (slapping PISHTCHIK on the shoulder). You old
CHARLOTTE. Now attention, please ; one more trick. (Tak-
ing a shawl from a chair. ) Now here's a shawl, and a very pretty
shawl ; I'm going to sell this very pretty shawl. (Shaking it.)
Who'll buy ? who'll buy ?
PISHTCHIK (astonished). Well I never !
CHARLOTTE. Ein, zwei, drei !
She lifts the shawl quickly ; behind it stands ANYA, who drops a
curtsy, runs to her mother, kisses her, then runs up into
the drawing-room amid general applause.
MADAME RANEVSKY (applauding). Bravo ! bravo !
CHARLOTTE. Once more. Ein, zwei, drei ! (She lifts up
the shawl ; behind it stands BARBARA, bowing.)
PISHTCHIK (astonished). Well I never !
CHARLOTTE. That's all. (She throws the shawl over
PISHTCHIK, makes a curtsy and runs up into the drawing-
PISHTCHIK (hurrying after her). You little rascal . . . there's
a girl for you, there's a girl. . . . [Exit
MADAME RANEVSKY. And still no sign of Leonidas. What
he's doing in the town so long, I can't understand. It must be
all over by now ; the property's sold ; or the auction never
came off ; why does he keep me in suspense so long ?
BARBARA (trying to soothe her). Uncle has bought it, I am
sure of that.
TROPHIMOF (mockingly). Of course he has !
BARBARA. Grannie sent him a power of attorney to buy it
in her name and transfer the mortgage. She's done it for
Anya's sake. I'm perfectly sure that Heaven will help us and
uncle will buy it.
MADAME RANEVSKY. Your Yaroslav grannie sent fifteen
hundred pounds to buy the property in her name she doesn't
trust us but it wouldn't be enough even to pay the interest.
130 THE CHERRY ORCHARD ACT in
(Covering her face rvith her hands.) My fate is being decided
to-day, my fate. . . .
TROPHIMOF (teasing BARBARA). Madame Lopakhin !
BARBARA (angrily). Pierre the Ploughman ! He's been
sent down twice from the University.
MADAME RANEVSKY. Why do you get angry, Barbara ?
He calls you Madame Lopakhin for fun. Why not ? You can
marry Lopakhin if you like ; he's a nice, interesting man ; you
needn't if you don't ; nobody wants to force you, my pet.
BARBARA. I take it very seriously, mamma, I must confess.
He's a nice man and I like him.
MADAME RANEVSKY. Then marry him. There's no good
putting it off that I can see.
BARBARA. But, mamma, I can't propose to him myself.
For two whole years everybody's been talking about him to me,
everyone ; but he either says nothing or makes a joke of it.
I quite understand. He's making money ; he's always busy ;
he can't be bothered with me. If only I had some money, even
a little, even ten pounds, I would give everything up and go
right away. I would go into a nunnery.
TROPHIMOF (mocking). What bliss !
BARBARA (to TROPHIMOF). A student ought to be intelli-
gent. (In a gentle voice, crying.) How ugly you've grown,
Peter ; how old you've grown ! (She stops crying ; to MADAME
RANEVSKY.) But I can't live without work, mamma. I must
have something to do every minute of the day.
YASHA (trying not to laugh). Ephikhodof has broken a
billiard cue. [Exit YASHA
BARBARA. What's Ephikhodof doing here ? Who gave
him leave to play billiards ? I don't understand these people.
MADAME RANEVSKY. Don't tease her, Peter. Don't you
see that she's unhappy enough already ?
TROPHIMOF. I wish she wouldn't be so fussy, always
meddling in other people's affairs. The whole summer she's
ACT in THE CHERRY ORCHARD 131
given me and Anya no peace ; she is afraid we'll work up a
romance between us. What business is it of hers ? I'm sure
I never gave her any grounds ; I'm not likely to be so common-
place. We are above love 1
MADAME RANEVSKY. Then I suppose I must be beneath
love. (Deeply agitated.} Why doesn't Leonidas come ? Oh,
if only I knew whether the property's sold or not ! It seems
such an impossible disaster, that I don't know what to think. . . .
I'm bewildered ... I shall burst out screaming, I shall do some-
thing idiotic. Save me, Peter ; say something to me, say some-
thing. . . .
TROPHIMOF. Whether the property is sold to-day or
whether it's not sold, surely it's all one ? It's all over with it
long ago ; there's no turning back ; the path is overgrown.
Be calm, dear Lyubof Andreyevna. You mustn't deceive
yourself any longer ; for once you must look the truth straight
in the face.
MADAME RANEVSKY. What truth ? You can see what's
truth, and what's untruth, but I seem to have lost the power of
vision ; I see nothing. You settle every important question
so boldly ; but tell me, Peter, isn't that because you're young,
because you have never solved any question of your own as
yet by suffering ? You look boldly ahead ; isn't it only that
you don't see or divine anything terrible in the future ; because
life is still hidden from your young eyes ? You are bolder,
honester, deeper than we are, but reflect, show me just a finger's
breadth of consideration, take pity on me. Don't you see ? I
was born here, my father and mother lived here, and my grand-
father ; I love this house ; without the cherry orchard my life
has no meaning for me, and if it must be sold, then for heaven's
sake sell me too ! (Embracing TROPHIMOF and kissing him
on the forehead.) My little boy was drowned here. (Crying.)
Be gentle with me, dear, kind Peter.
TROPHIMOF. You know I sympathise with all my heart.
MADAME RANEVSKY. Yes yes, but you ought to say it some-
how differently. (Taking out. her handkerchief and dropping a
132 THE CHERRY ORCHARD ACT m
telegram.) I am so wretched to-day, you can't imagine ! All
this noise jars on me, my heart jumps at every sound. I
tremble all over ; but I can't shut myself up ; I am afraid of
the silence when I'm alone. Don't be hard on me, Peter ;
I love you like a son. I would gladly let Anya marry you,
I swear it ; but you must work, Peter ; you must get
through your exams. You do nothing ; Fate tosses you about
from place to place ; and that's not right. It's true what I
say, isn't it ? And you must do something to your beard to
make it grow better. (Laughing. ) I can't help laughing at you.
TROPHIMOF (picking up the telegram). I don't wish to be an
MADAME RANEVSKY. It's a telegram from Paris. I get
them every day. One came yesterday, another to-day. That
savage is ill again ; he's bad again . . . He asks me to forgive
him ; he begs me to come ; and I really ought to go to Paris
and be with him. You look at me sternly ; but what am I to
do, Peter? What am I to do ? He's ill, he's lonely, he's
unhappy. Who is to look after him ? Who is to keep him from
doing stupid things ? Who is to give him his medicine when it's
time ? After all, why should I be ashamed to say it ? I love
him, that's plain. I love him, I love him. . . . My love is like
a stone tied round my neck ; it's dragging me down to the
bottom ; but I love my stone. I can't live without it. (Squeez-
ing TROPHIMOF'S hand.) Don't think ill of me, Peter ; don't
say anything ! Don't say anything !
TROPHIMOF (crying). Forgive my bluntness, for heaven's
sake ; but the man has simply robbed you.
MADAME RANEVSKY. No, no, no ! (Stopping her ears.)
You mustn't say that !
TROPHIMOF. He's a rascal ; everybody sees it but yourself ;
he's a petty rascal, a nobody . . .
MADAME RANEVSKY (angry but restrained). You're twenty-
six or twenty-seven, and you're still a Lower School boy !
TROPHIMOF. Who cares ?
MADAME RANEVSKY. You ought to be a man by now ;
ACT ni THE CHERRY ORCHARD 133
at your age you ought to understand people who love. You
ought to love someone yourself, you ought to be in love !
(Angrily.) Yes, yes ! It's not purity with you ; it's simply
you're a smug, a figure of fun, a freak . . .
TROPHIMOF (horrified). What does she say ?
MADAME RANEVSKY. " I am above love ! " You're not
above love ; you're simply what Firs calls a " job-lot." At
your age you ought to be ashamed not to have a mistress !
TROPHIMOF (aghast). This is awful ! What does she say ?
(Going quickly up into the drawing-room, clasping his head with
his hands.) This is something awful ! I can't stand it ; I'm
off ... (Exit, but returns at once.) All is over between us !
[Exit to landing
MADAME RANEVSKY (calling after him). Stop, Peter !
Don't be ridiculous ; I was only joking ! Peter !
TROPHIMOF is heard on the landing going quickly down the
stairs, and suddenly falling down them with a crash. ANYA
and BARBARA scream. A moment later the sound of laughter.
MADAME RANEVSKY. What has happened ?
ANYA runs in.
ANYA (laughing). Peter's tumbled downstairs. (She runs
MADAME RANEVSKY. What a ridiculous fellow he is !
TJie STATIONMASTER stands in the middle of tfic drawing-room
beyond the arch and recites Alexey Tolstoy's poem, " The
Sinner." l Everybody stops to listen, but after a few lines
the sound of a waltz is heard from the landing and he breaks
off. All dance. TROPHIMOF, ANYA, BARBARA and MADAME
RANEVSKY enter from the landing.
MADAME RANEVSKY. Come, Peter, come, you pure spirit.
... I beg your pardon. Let's have a dance.
Site dances with TROPHIMOF. ANYA and BARBARA dance.
Enter FIRS, and stands his walking-stick by the side door.
1 The sinner in question is Mary Magdalene called to repentance at a feast.
The Stationmaster is a sort of tactless Evangelical. Tchekhof did not share
his taste in poetry ; he looked on A. Tolstoy as a mountebank (I'amyati, 62).
134 THE CHERRY ORCHARD ACT m
Enter YASHA by the drawing-room ; lie stands looking at
YASHA. Well, grandfather ?
FIRS. I'm not feeling well. In the old days it was generals
and barons and admirals that danced at our dances, but now
we send for the Postmaster and the Stationmaster, and even
they make a favour of coming. I'm sort of weak all over. The
old master, their grandfather, used to give us all sealing wax,
when we had anything the matter. I've taken sealing wax every
day for twenty years and more. Perhaps that's why I'm still
YASHA. I'm sick of you, grandfather. (Yawning.) I wish
you'd die and have done with it.
FIRS. Ah ! you . . . job-lot ! (He mumbles to himself.)
TROPHIMOF and MADAME RANEVSKY dance beyond the arch
and down into the sitting-room.
MADAME RANEVSKY. Merci. I'll sit down. (Sitting.) I'm
ANYA (agitated). There was somebody in the kitchen just
now saying that the cherry orchard was sold to-day.
MADAME RANEVSKY. Sold ? Who to ?
ANYA. He didn't say who to. He's gone. (She dances with
TROPHIMOF. Both dance up into the drawing-room.)
YASHA. It was some old fellow chattering ; a stranger.
FIRS. And still Leonid Andreyitch doesn't come. He's
wearing his light overcoat, demi-saison ; he'll catch cold as like
as not. Ah, young wood, green wood !
MADAME RANEVSKY. This is killing me. Yasha, go and
find out who it was sold to.
YASHA. Why, he's gone long ago, the old man. (Laughs.)
MADAME RANEVSKY (vexed). What are you laughing at ?
What are you glad about ?
- Sealing wax. If any reader of this book wants to try Firs' treatment,
he must soak the sealing wax well in water, and then drink the water.
ACT in THE CHERRY ORCHARD 135
YASHA. He's a ridiculous fellow is Ephikhodof. Nothing
in him. Twenty-two misfortunes !
MADAME RANEVSKY. Firs, if the property is sold, where
will you go to ?
FIRS. Wherever you tell me, there I'll go.
MADAME RANEVSKY. Why do you look like that ? Are
you ill ? You ought to be in bed.
FIRS (ironically). Oh yes, I'll go to bed, and who'll hand the
things round, who'll give orders ? I've the whole house on my
YASHA. Lyubof Andreyevna ! Let me ask a favour of
you ; be so kind ; if you go to Paris again, take me with you,
I beseech you. It's absolutely impossible for me to stay here.
(Looking about ; sotto voce.) What's the use of talking ? You
can see for yourself this is a barbarous country ; the people
have no morals ; and the boredom ! The food in the kitchen
is something shocking, and on the top of it old Firs going
about mumbling irrelevant nonsense. Take me back with
you ; be so kind !
PISHTCHIK. May I have the pleasure ... a bit of a
waltz, charming lady ? (MADAME RANEVSKY takes his arm.)
All the same, enchanting lady, you must let me have
eighteen pounds. (Dancing.) Let me have . . . eighteen
[Exeunt dancing through the arch
YASHA (singing to himself).
" Oh, wilt thou understand
The turmoil of my soul ? "
Beyond tlie arch appears a figure in grey tall hoi and check trousers,
jumping and waving its arms. Cries of " Bravo, Cfiarlotte
DUNYASHA (stopping to powder her face). Mamselle Anya
tells me I'm to dance ; there are so many gentlemen and so few
ladies. But dancing makes me giddy and makes my heart
beat, Firs Nikolayevitch ; and just now the gentleman from the
136 THE CHERRY ORCHARD ACT m
post office said something so nice to me, oh, so nice ! It quite
took my breath away. (The music stops.)
FIRS. What did he say to you ?
DUNYASHA. He said, " You are like a flower."
YASHA (yawning). Cad ! [Exit YASHA
DUNYASHA. Like a flower ! I am so ladylike and refined,
I dote on compliments.
FIRS. You'll come to a bad end.
Enter EpHiKHODOF 1
EPHIKHODOF. You are not pleased to see me, Avdotya
Fyodorovna, no more than if I were some sort of insect. (Sigh-
ing.) Ah ! Life ! Life !
DUNYASHA. What do you want ?
EPHIKHODOF. Undoubtedly perhaps you are right. (Sigh-
ing.) But of course, if one regards it, so to speak, from the
point of view, if I may allow myself the expression, and with
apologies for my frankness, you have finally reduced me to
a state of mind. I quite appreciate my destiny ; every day
some misfortune happens to me, and I have long since grown
accustomed to it, and face my fortune with a smile. You have
passed your word to me, and although I ...
DUNYASHA. Let us talk of this another time, if you please ;
but now leave me in peace. I am busy meditating. (Playing
zvith her fan.)
EPHIKHODOF. Every day some misfortune befalls me, and
yet if 1 may venture to say so, I meet them with smiles and even
Enter BARBARA from the drawing-room
BARBARA (to EPHIKHODOF). Haven't you gone yet, Simeon ?
You seem to pay no attention to what you're told. (To
DUNYASHA.) You get out of here, Dunyasha. (To EPHIK-
HODOF.) First you play billiards and break a cue, and then you
march about the drawing-room as if you were a guest !
EPHIKHODOF. Allow me to inform you that it's not your
place to call me to account.
1 Carrying the cue that he has broken, according to a picture.
ACT m THE CHERRY ORCHARD 137
BARBARA. I'm not calling you to account ; I'm merely
talking to you. All you can do is to walk about from one
place to another, without ever doing a stroke of work ; and
why on earth we keep a clerk at all heaven only knows.
EPHIKHODOF (offended). Whether I work, or whether I
walk, or whether I eat, or whether I play billiards is a question
to be decided only by my elders and people who understand.
BARBARA (furious). How dare you talk to me like that !
How dare you ! I don't understand things, don't I ? You
clear out of here this minute ! Do you hear me ? This
EPHIKHODOF (flinching). I must beg you to express yourself
in genteeler language.
BARBARA (beside herself). You clear out this instant
second ! Out you go ! (Following him as he retreats towards
the door.) Twenty-two misfortunes ! Make yourself scarce !
Get out of my sight ! [Exit EPHIKHODOF
EPHIKHODOF (without}. I shall lodge a complaint against you.
BARBARA. What ! You're coming back, are you ? (Seiz-
ing the walking-stick left at the dooi- by FIRS.) Come on ! Come
on ! Come on ! I'll teach you ! Are you coming ? Are you
coming ? Then take that. (She slashes with tJie stick.)
LOPAKHIN. Many thanks ; much obliged.
BARBARA (still angry, but ironical). Sorry !
LOPAKHIN. Don't mention it. I'm very grateful for your
BARBARA. It's not worth thanking me for. (She walks away,
then looks round and asks in a gentle voice :) I didn't hurt you ?
LOPAKHIN. Oh no, nothing to matter. I shall have a bump
like a goose's egg, that's all.
Voices from the drawing-room: " Lopakhin has arrived!
Yermoldi Alcxeijitch ! "
PISHTCIIIK. Let my eyes see him, let my ears hear him !
(He and LOPAKHIN kiss.) You smell of brandy, old man.
We're having a high time too.
138 THE CHERRY ORCHARD ACT in
Enter MADAME RANEVSKY
MADAME RANEVSKY. Is it you, Yermolai Alexeyitch ?
Why have you been so long ? Where is Leonidas ?
LOPAKHIN. Leonid Andreyitch came back with me. He's
MADAME RANEVSKY (agitated). What happened ? Did the
sale come off ? Tell me, tell me !
LOPAKHIN (embarrassed, afraid of showing his pleasure). The
sale was all over by four o'clock. We missed the train and had
to wait till half-past eight. (Sighing heavily.) Ouf ! I'm
rather giddy. . . . *
Enter GAYEF. In one hand he carries parcel?; with the other
he wipes away his tears.
MADAME RANEVSKY. What happened, Lenya ? Come,
Lenya ! (Impatiently, crying.) Be quick, be quick, for
heaven's sake !
GAYEF (answering her only with an up and down gesture of
the hand ; to FIRS, crying). Here, take these. . . . Here are
some anchovies and Black Sea herrings. I've had nothing to
eat all day. Lord, what I've been through ! (Through the open
door of the billiard-room comes the click of the billiard balls and
YASHA'S voice : " Seven, eighteen I " GAYEF'S expression
changes ; he stops ci'ying.) I'm frightfully tired. Come and
help me change, Firs. (He goes up through the drawing-room,
PISHTCHIK. What about the sale ? Come on, tell us all
MADAME RANEVSKY. Was the cherry orchard sold ?
MADAME RANEVSKY. Who bought it ?
LOPAKHIN. I did. (A pause. MADAME RANEVSKY is over-
whelmed at the news. She would fall to the ground but for the
1 Lopakhin should not be represented as drunk, on the English stage at any
rate. That was another of the mistakes of the Stage Society. He is giddy ;
he is excited ; but it is with the immensity of what he has done at the auction.
If anything keeps him sober, it is the brandy.
ACT in THE CHERRY ORCHARD 139
chair and table by lier. BARBARA takes the keys from her belt,
throws them mi the floor in the middle of the sitting-room, and
exit.) I bought it. Wait a bit ; don't hurry me ; my
head's in a whirl ; I can't speak. . . . (Laughing.) When
we got to the sale, Deriganof was there already. Leonid
Andreyitch had only fifteen hundred pounds, and Deriganof
bid three thousand more than the mortgage right away. When
I saw how things stood, I went for him and bid four thousand.
He said four thousand five hundred. I said five thousand five
hundred. He went up by five hundreds, you see, and I went
up by thousands. . . . Well, it was soon over. I bid nine
thousand more than the mortgage, and got it ; and now the
cherry orchard is mine ! Mine ! (Laughing.) Heavens alive !
Just think of it ! The cherry orchard is mine ! Tell me that
I'm drunk ; tell me that I'm off my head ; tell me that it's all
a dream ! . . . (Stamping his feet.) Don't laugh at me ! If
only my father and my grandfather could rise from their graves
and see the whole affair, how their Yermolai, their flogged and
ignorant Yermolai, who used to run about barefooted in the
winter, how this same Yermolai had bought a property that
hasn't its equal for beauty anywhere in the whole world ! I
have bought the property where my father and grandfather
were slaves, where they weren't even allowed into the kitchen.
I'm asleep, it's only a vision, it isn't real. . . . 'Tis the fruit of
imagination, wrapped in the mists of ignorance. 1 (Picking up
the keys and smiling affectionately.) She's thrown down her
keys ; she wants to show that she's no longer mistress here.
. . . (Jingling them together.) Well, well, what's the odds ?
(Tlie musicians arc heard tuning up.) Hey, musicians, play !
I want to hear you. Come everyone and see Yermolai Lopakhin
lay his axe to the cherry orchard, come and see the trees fall
down ! We'll fill the place with villas ; our grandsons and
great-grandsons shall see a new life here. . . . Strike up, music !
1 Wrapped in the mists of ignorance : a cant, jocular phrase ; a literary tag
ascribed to reviewers by Turgenieft. Lopakhin is quoting out of some bad
play, as usual when he is lively.
140 THE CHERRY ORCHARD ACT in
(The band plays. MADAME RANEVSKY sinks into a chair and
weeps bitterly.] (Reproachfully.} Oh why, why didn't you
listen to me ? You can't put the clock back now, poor dear.
(Crying.} Oh, that all this were past and over ! Oh, that our
unhappy topsy-turvy life were changed !
PISHTCHIK (taking him by the arm, sotto voce}. She's crying.
Let's go into the drawing-room and leave her alone to ...
Come on. (Taking him by the arm, and going up towards the
LOPAKHIN. What's up ? Play your best, musicians ! Let
everything be as I want. (Ironically.) Here comes the new
squire, the owner of the cherry orchard ! 1 (Knocking up by
accident against a table and nearly throwing down the candelabra.}
Never mind, I can pay for everything !
Exit with PISHTCHIK. Nobody remains in the drawing-room or
sitting-room except MADAME RANEVSKY, who sits huddled
together, weeping bitterly. The band plays softly. Enter
ANYA and TROPHIMOF quickly. ANYA goes to her mother
and kneels before her. TROPHIMOF stands in the entry
to the drawing-room.
ANYA. Mamma ! Are you crying, mamma ? My dear,
good, sweet mamma ! Darling, I love you ! I bless you !
The cherry orchard is sold ; it's gone ; it's quite true, it's
quite true. But don't cry, mamma, you've still got life
before you, you've still got your pure and lovely soul. Come
with me, darling ; come away from here. We'll plant a new
garden, still lovelier than this. You will see it and understand,
and happiness, deep, tranquil happiness will sink down on your
soul, like the sun at eventide, and you'll smile, mamma. Come,
darling, come with me !
1 This is not boasting, but bitter irony, says Eichenwald (Pokrovsky,
Lopakhm is not a Lopakhinite ; he is ashamed of his own happiness ; let the
music drown it. .
Same scene as Act I. There are no window-curtains, no pictures.
The little furniture left is stacked in a corner, as if for sale.
A feeling of emptiness. By the door to the hall and at the
back of the scene are piled portmanteaux, bundles, etc. The
door is open and the voices of BARBARA and ANYA are
LOPAKHIN stands waiting. YASHA holds a tray with small
tumblers full of champagne. EPHIKHODOF is tying up a
box in the hall. A distant murmur of voices behind the
scene ; the PEASANTS have come to say good-bye.
GAYEF (without). Thank you, my lads, thank you.
YASHA. The common people have come to say good-bye.
I'll tell you what I think, Yermolai Alexeyitch ; they're good
fellows but rather stupid.
The murmur of voices dies away. Enter MADAME RANEVSKY
and GAYEF from the hall. She is not crying, but she is
pale, her face twitches, she cannot speak.
GAYEF. You gave them your purse, Lyuba. That
was wrong, very wrong !
MADAME RANEVSKY. I couldn't help it, I couldn't help it !
LOPAKHIN (catting after them through the doorway). Please
come here ! Won't you come here ? Just a glass to say
good-bye. I forgot to bring any from the town, and could only
raise one bottle at the station. Come along. (A pause.)
What, won't you have any ? (Returning from the door.) If
I'd known, I wouldn't have bought it. I shan't have any
either. (YASHA sets the tray down carefully on a chair.) Drink
it yourself, Yasha.
YASHA. Here's to our departure ! Good luck to them
142 THE CHERRY ORCHARD ACT iv
that stay ! (Drinking.) This isn't real champagne, you take
my word for it.
LOPAKHIN. Sixteen shillings a bottle. (A pause.) It's
devilish cold in here.
YASHA. The fires weren't lighted to-day ; we're all going
away. (He laughs.)
LOPAKHIN. What are you laughing for ?
YASHA. Just pleasure.
LOPAKHIN. Here we are in October but it's as calm and
sunny as summer. Good building weather. (Looking at his
watch and speaking off.) Don't forget that there's only forty-
seven minutes before the train goes. You must start for the
station in twenty minutes. Make haste.
Enter TROPHIMOF in an overcoat, from out of doors
TROPHIMOF. I think it's time we were off. The carriages
are round. What the deuce has become of my goloshes ?
I've lost 'em. (Calling off.) Anya, my goloshes have dis-
appeared. I can't find them anywhere !
LOPAKHIN. I've got to go to Kharkof . I'll start in the same
train with you. I'm going to spend the winter at Kharkof.
I've been loafing about all this time with you people, eating
my head off for want of work. I can't live without work, I
don't know what to do with my hands ; they dangle about as
if they didn't belong to me.
TROPHIMOF. Well, we're going now, and you'll be able to
get back to your beneficent labours.
LOPAKHIN. Have a glass.
TROPHIMOF. No, I won't.
LOPAKHIN. Well, so you're off to Moscow ?
TROPHIMOF. Yes, I'll see them into the town, and go on to
LOPAKHIN. Well, well, ... I suppose the professors haven't
started their lectures yet ; they're waiting till you arrive.
TROPHIMOF. It is no affair of yours.
LOPAKHIN. How many years have you been up at the
ACT iv THE CHERRY ORCHARD 143
TROPHIMOF. Try and think of some new joke ; this one's
getting a bit stale. (Looking for his goloshes.) Look here, I
daresay we shan't meet again, so let me give you a hit of advice
as a keepsake : Don't flap your hands about ! Get out of the
habit of flapping. Building villas, prophesying that villa
residents will turn into small freeholders, all that sort of thing
is flapping too. Well, when all's said and done, I like you.
You have thin, delicate, artist fingers ; you have a delicate
LOPAKHIN (embracing him). Good-bye, old ehap. Thank
you for everything. Take some money off me for the journey
if you want it.
TROPHIMOF. What for ? I don't want it.
LOPAKHIN. But you haven't got any.
TROPHIMOF. Yes, I have. Many thanks. I got some for
a translation. Here it is, in my pocket. (Anxiously.) I can't
find my goloshes anywhere ! x
BARBARA (from the next room). Here, take your garbage
away ! (She throws a pair of goloshes on the stage.)
TROPHIMOF. What are you so cross about, Barbara ?
Humph ! . . . But those aren't my goloshes !
LOPAKHIN. In the spring I sowed three thousand acres of
poppy and I have cleared four thousand pounds net profit.
When my poppies were in flower, what a picture they made !
So you see, I cleared four thousand pounds ; and I wanted to
lend you a bit because I've got it to spare. What's the good
of being stuck up ? I'm a peasant. ... As man to man . . .
TROPHIMOF. Your father was a peasant ; mine was a
chemist ; it doesn't prove anything. (LOPAKHIN takes out his
pocket-book with paper money.) Shut up, shut up. ... If you
offered me twenty thousand pounds I would not take it. I
am a free man ; nothing that you value so highly, all of you, rich
and poor, has the smallest power over me ; it's like thistledown
floating on the wind. I can do without you ; I can go past
1 Trophfmof is described as seeking for his goloshes " with tragic despair "
144 THE CHERRY ORCHARD ACT iv
you ; I'm strong and proud. Mankind marches forward to the
highest truth, to the highest happiness possible on earth, and
I march in the foremost ranks.
LOPAKHIN. Will you get there ?
TROPHIMOF. Yes. (A pause.) I will get there myself
or I will show others the way.
The sound of axes hewing is heard in the distance.
LOPAKHIN. Well, good-bye, old chap ; it is time to start.
Here we stand swaggering to each other, and life goes by
all the time without heeding us. When I work for hours
without getting tired, I get easy in my mind and I seem to
know why I exist. But God alone knows what most of the
people in Russia were born for. . . . Well, who cares ?
It doesn't affect the circulation of work. They say Leonid
Andreyitch has got a place ; he's going to be in a bank and get
six hundred pounds a year. . . . He won't sit it out, he's too lazy.
ANYA (in the doorway). Mamma says, will you stop them
cutting down the orchard till she has gone.
TROPHIMOF. Really, haven't you got tact enough for that ?
[Exit TROPHIMOF by the hall
LOPAKHIN. Of course, I'll stop them at once. What fools
they are ! [Exit after TROPHIMOF
ANYA. Has Firs been sent to the hospital ?
YASHA. I told 'em this morning. They're sure to have
ANYA (to EPHIKHODOF, who crosses). Simeon Panteleyitch,
please find out if Firs has been sent to the hospital.
YASHA (offended). I told George this morning. What's the
good of asking a dozen times ?
EPHIKHODOF. Our centenarian friend, in my conclusive
opinion, is hardly worth tinkering ; it's time he was despatched
to his forefathers. I can only say I envy him. (Putting down a
portmanteau on a bandbox and crushing it flat.) There you are !
I knew how it would be ! [Exit
YASHA (jeering). Twenty-two misfortunes !
BARBARA (without). Has Firs been sent to the hospital ?
ACT iv THE CHERRY ORCHARD 145
BARBARA. Why didn't they take the note to the doctor ?
ANYA. We must send it after them. [Exit ANYA
BARBARA (from the next room). Where's Yasha ? Tell
him his mother is here. She wants to say good-bye to
YASHA (with a gesture of impatience). It's enough to try the
patience of a saint !
DUNYASHA has been busying herself with the luggage. Seeing
YASHA alone, she approaches him.
DUNYASHA. You might just look once at me, Yasha. You
are going away, you are leaving me. (Crying and throwing
her arms round his neck. )
YASHA. What's the good of crying ? (Drinking champagne. )
In six days I shall be back in Paris. To-morrow we take the
express, off we go, and that's the last of us ! I can hardly
believe it's true. " Vive la France ! " This place don't suit
me. I can't bear it ... it can't be helped. I have had
enough barbarism ; I'm fed up. (Drinking champagne.) What's
the good of crying ? You be a good girl, and you'll have no
call to cry.
DUNYASHA (powdering her face and looking into a glass).
Write me a letter from Paris. I've been so fond of you, Yasha,
ever so fond ! I am a delicate creature, Yasha.
YASHA. Here's somebody coming. (He busies himself with
the luggage, singing under his breath.)
Enter MADAME RANEVSKY, GAYEF, ANYA and CHARLOTTE
GAYEF. We'll have to be off; it's nearly time. (Looking
at YASHA.) Who is it smells of red herring ?
MADAME RANEVSKY. We must take our seats in ten minutes.
(Looking round the room.) Good-bye, dear old house, good-bye,
grandpapa ! When winter is past and spring comes again, you
will be here no more ; they will have pulled you down. Oh,
think of all these walls have seen ! (Kissing ANYA passionately.)
My treasure, you look radiant, youreyes flash like two diamonds.
Are you happy ? very happy ?
146 THE CHERRY ORCHARD ACT iv
ANYA. Very, very happy. We're beginning a new life,
GAYEF (gaily). She's quite right, everything's all right
now. Till the cherry orchard was sold we were all agitated
and miserable ; but once the thing was settled finally and
irrevocably, we all calmed down and got jolly again. I'm a
Dank clerk now ; I'm a financier . . . red in the middle ! And
you, Lyuba, whatever you may say, you're looking ever so
much better, not a doubt about it.
MADAME RANEVSKY. Yes, my nerves are better ; it's quite
true. (She is helped on with her hat and coat.) I sleep well
now. Take my things out, Yasha. We must be off. (To
ANYA.) We shall soon meet again, darling. . . . I'm off to
Paris ; I shall live on the money your grandmother sent from
Yaroslav to buy the property. God bless your grandmother !
I'm afraid it won't last long.
ANYA. You'll come back very, very soon, won't you,
mamma ? I'm going to work and pass the examination at
the Gymnase and get a place and help you. We'll read all
sorts of books together, won't we, mamma ? (Kissing her
mother's hands.) We'll read in the long autumn evenings,
we'll read heaps of books, and a new, wonderful world will open
up before us. (Meditating.) . . . Come back, mamma !
MADAME RANEVSKY. I'll come back, my angel. (Embrac-
ing her.) 1
Enter LOPAKHIN. CHARLOTTE sings softly.
GAYEF. Happy Charlotte, she's singing.
CHARLOTTE (taking a bundle of rugs, like a swaddled baby).
Hush-a-bye, baby, on the tree top . . . (The baby answers,
" Wah, ivah") Hush, my little one, hush, my pretty one !
(" Wah, wah") You'll break your mother's heart. (She
throivs the bundle down on the floor again.) Don't forget to find
me a new place, please. I can't do without it.
1 It is in books that Anya and her mother are to discover the new and
wonderful world. The kingdom of heaven will be within them, in thought, not
materially about them.
ACT iv THE CHERRY ORCHARD 147
LOPAKHIN. We will find you a place, Charlotte Ivanovna,
don't be afraid.
GAYEF. Everybody's deserting us. Barbara's going.
Nobody seems to want us.
CHARLOTTE. There's nowhere for me to live in the town.
I'm obliged to go. (Hums a tune.) What's the odds ?
LOPAKHIN. Nature's masterpiece !
PISHTCHIK (panting). Oy, oy, let me get my breath again !
. . . I'm done up ! . . . My noble friends ! . . . Give me some
GAYEF. Wants some money, I suppose. No, thank you ;
I'll keep out of harm's way. [Exit
PISHTCHIK. It's ages since I have been here, fairest lady.
(To LOPAKHIN.) You here ? Glad to see you, you man of
gigantic intellect. Take this ; it's for you. (Giving LOPAKHIN
money.) Forty pounds ! I still owe you eighty-four.
LOPAKHIN (amazed, shrugging his shoulders). It's like a
thing in a dream ! Where did you get it from ?
PISHTCHIK. Wait a bit. . . . I'm hot. ... A most remarkable
thing ! Some Englishmen came and found some sort of white
clay on my land. (To MADAME RANEVSKY.) And here's forty
pounds for you, lovely, wonderful lady. (Giving her money.)
The rest another time. (Drinking water.) Only just now a
young man in the train was saying that some . . . some great
philosopher advises us all to jump off roofs . . . Jump, he says,
and there's an end of it. (With an astonished air.) Just
think of that ! More water !
LOPAKHIN. Who were the Englishmen ?
PISHTCHIK. I leased them the plot with the clay on it
for twenty-four years. But I haven't any time now ... I
must he getting on. I must go to Znoikof's, to Kardamonof's.
. . . I owe everybody money. (Drinking.) Good-bye to every-
one ; I'll look in on Thursday.
MADAME RANEVSKY. -We're just moving into town, and
to-morrow I go abroad.
148 THE CHERRY ORCHARD ACT iv
PISHTCHIK. What ! (Alarmed.) What are you going into
town for ? Why, what's happened to the furniture ? . . .
Trunks ? ... Oh, it's all right. (Crying.) It's all right.
People of powerful intellect . . . those Englishmen. It's all
right. Be happy . . . God be with you . . . it's all right.
Everything in this world has to come to an end. (Kissing
MADAME RANEVSKY'S hand.) If ever the news reaches you
that / have come to an end, give a thought to the old . . . horse,
and say, " Once there lived a certain Simeonof-Pishtchik,
Heaven rest his soul." . . . Remarkable weather we're
having. . . . Yes. . . . (Goes out deeply moved. Returns at
once and says from the doorway : ) Dashenka sent her compli-
MADAME RANEVSKY. Now we can go. I have only two
things on my mind. One is poor old Firs. (LooJcing at her
watch.) We can still stay five minutes.
ANYA. Firs has been sent to the hospital already, mamma.
Yasha sent him off this morning.
MADAME RANEVSKY. My second anxiety is Barbara. She's
used to getting up early and working, and now that she has no
work to do she's like a fish out of water. She has grown thin
and pale and taken to crying, poor dear. . . . (A pause.)
You know very well. Yermolai Alexeyitch, I always hoped . . .
to see her married to you, and as far as I can see, you're looking
out for a wife. (She whispers to ANYA, who nods to CHARLOTTE,
and both exeunt.) She loves you ; you like her ; and I can't
make out why you seem to fight shy of each other. I don't
LOPAKHIN. I don't understand it either, to tell you the
truth. It all seems so odd. If there's still time I'll do it
this moment. Let's get it over and have done with it ;
without you there, I feel as if I should never propose to
MADAME RANEVSKY. A capital idea ! After all, it doesn't
take more than a minute. I'll call her at once.
LOPAKHIN. And here's the champagne all ready. (Looking
ACT iv THE CHERRY ORCHARD 149
at the glasses.) Empty ; someone's drunk it. (YASHA coughs.)
That's what they call lapping it up and no mistake !
MADAME RANEVSKY (animated). Capital ! We'll all go
away. . . . Allez, Yasha. I'll call her. (At the door.) Bar-
bara, leave all that and come here. Come along !
[Exeunt MADAME RANEVSKY and YASHA
LOPAKHIN (looking at his watch). Yes.
A pause. A stifled laugh behind the door ; whispering ; at
last enter BARBARA.
BARBARA (examining the luggage). Very odd ; I can't find
it anywhere . . .
LOPAKHIN. What are you looking for ?
BARBARA. I packed it myself, and can't remember.
LOPAKHIN. Where are you going to-day, Varvara Mikhai-
BARBARA. Me ? I'm going to the Ragulins. I'm engaged
to go and keep house for them, to be housekeeper or whatever
LOPAKHIN. Oh, at Yashnevo ? That's about fifty miles
from here. (A pause.) Well, so life in this house is over now.
BARBARA (looking at the luggage). Wherever can it be ?
Perhaps I put it in the trunk. . . . Yes, life here is over
now ; there won't be any more . . .
LOPAKHIN. And I'm off to Kharkof at once ... by the same
train. A lot of business to do. I'm leaving Ephikhodof to
look after this place. I've taken him on.
BARBARA. Have you ?
LOPAKHIN. At this time last year snow was falling already,
if you remember ; but now it's fine and sunny. Still, it's
cold for all that. Three degrees of frost.
BARBARA. Were there ? I didn't look. (A pause.) Be-
sides, the thermometer's broken. (A pause.)
A VOICE (at tfie outer door). Yermolai Alexeyitch !
LOPAKHIN (as if lie had only been zcaiting to be called).
I'm just coming ! [Exit LOPAKHIN quickly
BARBARA sits on the floor, puts her Jiead on a bundle and sobs
softly. 1 The door opens and MADAME RANEVSKY comes
MADAME RANEVSKY. Well ? (A pause.) We must be off.
BARBARA (no longer crying, wiping her eyes). Yes, it's time,
mamma. I shall get to the Ragulins all right to-day, so long
as I don't miss the train.
MADAME RANEVSKY (calling off). Put on your things, Anya.
Enter ANYA, then GAYEF and CHARLOTTE. GAYEF wears a
warm overcoat with a hood. The servants and drivers come
in. EPHIKHODOF busies himself about the luggage.
MADAME RANEVSKY. Now we can start on our journey.
ANYA (delighted). We can start on our journey !
GAYEF. My friends, my dear, beloved friends ! Now that
I am leaving this house for ever, can I keep silence ? Can I
refrain from expressing those emotions which fill my whole
being at such a moment ?
ANYA (pleadingly). Uncle !
BARBARA. Uncle, what's the good ?
GAYEF (sadly). Double the red in the middle pocket.
I'll hold my tongue.
Enter TROPHIMOF, then LOPAKHIN
TROPHIMOF. Come along, it's time to start.
LOPAKHIN. Ephikhodof, my coat.
MADAME RANEVSKY. I must sit here another minute.
It's just as if I had never noticed before what the walls and
ceilings of the house were like. I look at them hungrily, with
such tender love. . . .
GAYEF. I remember, when I was six years old, how I sat
1 Glinka ascribes the failure of Lopakhin's wooing simply to sonic '
which governs all Tchekhof's characters : " something unseen, something
immaterial holds them back ; they are hindered by some psychological
trammels" (Pokrovsky, 904). Batyushkof attributes it to their both being
" job-lots." Both have spent their life on work and left the rest undeveloped.
This conversation is like all other conversations they have had together:
' ' When are you carrying your rye ? What are you going to do next ? ' '
How can they suddenly talk love ? (Ibid. 69).
ACT iv THE CHERRY ORCHARD 151
in this window on Trinity Sunday, and watched father
starting out for church.
MADAME RANEVSKY. Has everything been cleared out ?
LOPAKHIN. Apparently everything. (To EPHIKHODOF, put-
ting on his overcoat.) See that everything's in order, Ephik-
EPHIKHODOF (in a hoarse voice). You trust me, Yermolai
LOPAKHIN. What's up with your voice ?
EPHIKHODOF. I was just having a drink of water. I
YASHA (contemptuously}. Cad !
MADAME RANEVSKY. We're going, and not a soul will be
LOPAKHIN. Until the spring.
BARBARA pulls an umbrella out of a bundle of rugs, as if she were
brandishing it to strike. LOPAKHIN pretends to be frightened.
BARBARA. Don't be so silly ! I never thought of such a
TROPHIMOF. Come, we'd better go and get in. It's time
to start. The train will be in immediately.
BARBARA. There are your goloshes, Peter, by that port-
manteau. (Crying.) What dirty old things they are !
TROPHIMOF (putting on his goloshes). Come along.
GAYEF (much moved, afraid of crying). The train . . . the
station . . . double the red in the middle ; doublette to pot
the white in the corner. 1 . . .
MADAME RANEVSKY. Come on !
LOPAKHIN. Is everyone here ? No one left in there ?
(Locking the door.) There are things stacked in there ; I must
lock them up. Come on !
ANYA. Good-bye, house ! good-bye, old life !
TROPIUMOF. Welcome, new life !
1 If 1 make your ball hit the cushion and run across into a pocket, it is a
double ; ii 1 hit the cushion myself and pot you on the rebound, it is a doublette.
152 THE CHERRY ORCHARD ACT iv
[Exit with ANYA. BARBARA looks round the room, and exit
slowly. Exeunt YASHA, and CHARLOTTE with her dog
LOPAKHIN. Till the spring, then. Go on, everybody.
[Exit. MADAME RANEVSKY and GAYEF remain alone. They
seem to have been waiting for this, throw their arms round
each other's necks and sob restrainedly and gently, afraid of
GAYEF (in despair). My sister ! my sister !
MADAME RANEVSKY. Oh, my dear, sweet, lovely orchard !
My life, my youth, my happiness, farewell ! Farewell !
ANYA (catting gaily, without). Mamma !
TROPHIMOF (gay and lively). Aoo !
MADAME RANEVSKY. One last look at the walls and the
windows. . . . Our dear mother used to love to walk up and
down this room.
GAYEF. My sister ! my sister !
ANYA (without). Mamma !
TROPHIMOF (without). Aoo !
MADAME RANEVSKY. We're coming.
[Exeunt. The stage is empty. One hears all the doors being
locked, and the carriages driving away. All is quiet. Amid
the silence the thud of the axes on the trees echoes sad and
lonely. The sound of footsteps. FIRS appears in the door-
way, R. He is dressed, as always, in his long coat and white
waistcoat; he wears slippers. He is ill. 1
FIRS (going to the door L. and trying the handle.)
1 " In his old livery and tall hat " (Pokrovsky, 893). " The impression of
this scene as given by the Moscow Artistic Theatre is overwhelming," says
Glinka. " Life has passed on, gone by, forgotten him. . . . The old life
has cast him aside ; the new life will have nothing to do with him. It goes
hurrying on somewhere, knocking and jostling, hastening to reach the future
happiness of mankind. And yet Firs is a man too " (Ibid. 906). " They are
sure to find out soon and send back for him," says Batyushkof ; " but the
author wanted to show to what a pitch of thoughtlessness people can go
who, from their childhood up, have never once faced the realities of life "
ACT iv THE CHERRY ORCHARD 153
Locked. They've gone. (Sitting on the sofa.) They've for-
gotten me. Never mind ! I'll sit here. Leonid Andreyitch
is sure to have put on his cloth coat instead of his fur. (He
sighs anxiously.} He hadn't me to see. Young wood, green
wood ! (He mumbles something incomprehensible.} Life has
gone by as if I'd never lived. (Lying down.} I'll lie down.
There's no strength left in you ; there's nothing, nothing.
Ah, you . . . job-lot !
He lies motionless. A distant sound is heard, as if from the sky,
the sound of a string breaking, dying away, melancholy.
Silence ensues, broken only by the stroke of the axe on the
trees far away in the cherry orchard.
of Russian books referred to in the Notes and Introduction
JUBILEE SBORNIK. The Tchekhof Jubilee Sbornik. (A collection of the
poems and articles written to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of his
birth). Moscow, 1910.
KARPOF. Tchekhof and his Poiesis. St Petersburg, 1904.
LEIKIN. N. A. Leikin ; Reminiscences. (With an appendix of letters from
Tchekhof.) St Petersburg, 1907.
LETTERS. Collection of Tchekhof's Letters. Edited by V. Brender. Vol. I.
MEREZUKcSvsKY. Gorky and Tchekhof. (Griadiiszczii Cham.) St Peters-
MEYERHOLD. The Naturalistic Theatre and the Theatre of Moods. (In a
volume, " Teatr," published by " Szipovnik.") St Petersburg, 1908.
NA PAMYATNIK. For a Monument to Tchekhof. Verse and prose. (By
various hands.) St Petersburg, 1906.
PAMYATI. To the Memory of Tchekhof. (A collection of reminiscences by
his friends, Bunin, Gorky. Kuprin, Ladyzhensky, Thedorof and Michael
Tchekhof, his brother.) Moscow, 1906.
POKROVSKY. A. P. Tchekhof : his Life and Writings. (A collection of critical
articles published during his lifetime in various papers ami reviews,
by Batyushkof, Eicheuwald, Glinka, Nevyedomsky, etc.) Edited by
V. Pokrovsky. Moscow, 1907.
UC SOUTHERN REGIONAL LIBRARY FACILITY
A 001 159 796